NY FRACKING: Did state come close to saying OK?

Details came out in trial of Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, in Manhattan federal court.

Source: NY FRACKING: Did state come close to saying OK?

New York’s Ban on High-Volume Fracking Rocks the Foundations of ‘Shale Revolution’

New York’s Ban on High-Volume Fracking Rocks the Foundations of ‘Shale Revolution’.

Health Department Report on Fracking in New York State – NYTimes.com

Health Department Report on Fracking in New York State – NYTimes.com.

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky for New York | Capital New York

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky for New York | Capital New York.

Cuomo concludes fracking is too risky for New York

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ALBANY—A long-awaited study released by the Cuomo administration on Wednesday determined several “red flags” about hydraulic fracturing that could pose “significant public health risks,” officials said at a public meeting of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his cabinet.

The governor’s announcement, articulated by his acting Department of Health commissioner Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens, delays any potential gas drilling in New York State for at least several more years as more data becomes available.

“The evidence in the studies we reviewed raised public health concerns,” Zucker said. “There are many red flags because there are questions that remain unanswered from lack of scientific analysis, specifically longitudinal studies of [fracking].”

“The science isn’t here,” Zucker continued. “But the cumulative concerns based on the information I have read … gives me reason to pause.”



Winding toward the conclusion of his presentation, Zucker said, “Would I live in a community with [fracking] based on the facts that I have now? Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports behind me … my answer is no.”

He yielded to Cuomo, who thanked him for his “powerful” remarks.

The health study, requested two years ago by state environmental officials, provided the basis for an open-ended stall by the governor, who was loath to anger environmentalist opponents or pro-business supporters of fracking before his re-election. For the past six years the state has vexed both constituencies, without provoking an outright revolt by either, by observing a moratorium on fracking without actually banning it.

Zucker said the health review involved 4,500 staff hours reviewing anecdotal reports and a stack of existing studies. He spent 15 minutes offering his analysis of several peer-reviewed reports and making an analogy to earlier scientific thinking on second-hand smoking.

Martens, when he spokes, said that restrictions already on hydrofracking in the New York City watershed as well as local towns that have banned its development mean that “the prospects for [hydrofracking] development in New York State are uncertain at best.”

At numerous points during his first term, and especially during his campaign this year, Cuomo cited the ongoing study as of the health impacts of fracking in lieu of articulating a position on it. In the meantime, a moratorium put in place by then-Governor David Paterson in 2008 remained in place.

(The health study placed the political onus on the Cuomo administration’s health department for its never-ending timeline; respected former health commissioner Nirav Shah, placed in the awkward position of giving a series of non-answers to questions about the department’s progress on its fracking study, left without saying much at all.)

In September 2012, after years of study, Martens and the Department of Environmental Conservation formally asked the state Department of Health to review the human health risks of fracking, leading to further delays.

The state sits on one of the nation’s richest shale deposits, the Marcellus, and is the last state in the nation with a major shale play to authorize fracking.

Proponents say drilling will create tens of thousands of jobs in the most economically depressed parts of the state, where industry and jobs departed generations ago.

Environmental groups have cautioned that drilling for natural gas in New York will pollute water sources, increase reliance on fossil fuels and harm human health.

In June, the state Court of Appeals upheld local bans on fracking, which Cuomo said would limit drilling to areas that support the industry.  More than 120 communities have banned fracking, while about 60 have passed resolutions that will allow the industry to expand.

For years, anti-fracking activists have been Cuomo’s most outspoken opponents, protesting nearly all his public appearances and rallying thousands in Albany for the annual State of the State address.

Cuomo lost a number of upstate communities in his primary to Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout in September, a showing she attributed in large part to the turnout among anti-fracking activists.

Following Martens and Zucker at the cabinet meeting, Cuomo said, “I get very few people who say to me, I love the idea of fracking.”

Referring to the economically depressed areas of upstate that were candidates for fracking activity, Cuomo said the question now is, “What can we do in these areas to generate jobs, generate wealth … as an alternative to fracking?”

Answering a reporter’s question after the presentation, Cuomo predicted “a ton of lawsuits” in response to the decision.

Akwesasne Drummers at State of the State | Shaleshock Media

Akwesasne Drummers at State of the State | Shaleshock Media.

At Industry’s Urging, Engineer Reverses Position on LPG Cavern Storage « DC BureauDC Bureau

At Industry’s Urging, Engineer Reverses Position on LPG Cavern Storage « DC BureauDC Bureau.

Hydrofracking Safe, Says N.Y. Health Dept. Analysis – NYTimes.com

Hydrofracking Safe, Says N.Y. Health Dept. Analysis – NYTimes.com.

HIA process and request for information

Cuomo Letter Requests DOH Review to require public participation and investigation of extensive information not included in the Revised Draft SGEIS

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


I understand that your Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Dr. Nirav R. Shah, and three outside experts are conducting a “Review” of the “health impact analysis” in your Department of Environmental Conservation’s Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS). I write today regarding that Review.

First, it is improper that the DOH Review is being undertaken in total secrecy without any public notice regarding the scope of the Review or any details about how it is being conducted. I request that this problem be immediately resolved by:

a) providing public notice about the intent and scope of the proposed DOH Review, how it is being conducted and other pertinent details about it;

b) requiring a 30-day minimum public comment period about the proposed DOH Review; and

c) holding at least one public hearing so that the DOH reviewers can hear testimony from interested parties.

Second, it is my understanding that the work of the three outside experts is contractually limited to a mere 25 hours. The Revised Draft SGEIS contains thousands of pages related to public health concerns. Hundreds of thousands of pages of written comments have been submitted about DEC’s failure to address public health concerns adequately. It is impossible for the reviewers to read or investigate all of this information in such a short period of time.

The DOH Review is critically important because neither a Final SGEIS nor any Revised Shale Gas Rulemaking reportedly will be adopted until it is completed. The DOH Review must be technically rigorous, comprehensive in scope as well as open and transparent. There must be no arbitrary time limit on the DOH Review, just as the SGEIS has no deadline for completion.

Given the obvious shortcomings of the current DOH Review, please re-open public comment on the Revised Draft SGEISto allow interested parties to provide input about how the DOH Review should be conducted. Such formal notification would help make sure that no Final SGEIS or Revised Shale Gas Rulemaking is adopted until after an adequate DOH Review is completed.

Until the shortcomings of the DOH Review have been fully resolved, DEC’s Shale Gas Revised Rulemaking Proceeding should be terminated. DEC’s rulemaking proposal should not have been revised before completion of the DOH Review and adoption of the Revised Draft SGEIS.

Third, the Revised Draft SGEIS received scathing criticism from hundreds of physicians, scientists, elected officials, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as more than 22,000 signatories to a coalition letter which requests that it be withdrawn and restarted to address 17 key concerns. See:http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/coalition_letter/2011

That is why limiting the DOH Review to the published Revised Draft SGEIS makes no sense. It is imperative that the reviewers also investigate all of the documented concerns. For that reason, I request that the reviewers be required to investigate all of the comments related to public health concerns in the Revised Draft SGEIS.

I specifically request that the reviewers investigate the detailed data compilation presented in Appendix A. It documents a wide spectrum of pollution incidents reported by DEC and local health authorities in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, including known drinking water contamination hazards, massive gas drilling wastewater discharges to the environment that were never remediated and still do not meet clean up standards as well as fires and explosions caused by gas and oil extraction activities across the areas of New York where those efforts have been prevalent.

Fourth, the foundation of DEC’s Revised Draft SGEIS and the Revised Shale Gas Rulemaking proceedings is that: “As a result of New York’s rigorous regulatory process, the types of problems reported to have occurred in states without such strong environmental laws and rigorous regulations haven’t happened here.

That critical assertion is factually incorrect. In order to safeguard public health and the environment, DEC and DOH must address the thousands of gas and oil extraction hazards documented by the data I have requested the reviewers to investigate.

Fifth, in order to assess the adequacy of the DEC’s “health impact analysis,” Dr. Shah and the three outside experts must determine whether DEC has achieved these fundamental requirements:

1) identified the full spectrum of toxic air, land and water contaminants resulting from shale gas fracking as well as conventional natural gas extraction;

2) documented the environmental fate and transport mechanisms involving those pollutants;

3) documented the long-term cumulative health impacts resulting from trace-level exposures to natural gas extraction pollutants in air, surface and ground water, drinking water and soil, including health impacts involving long latency periods; and

d) safeguarded New Yorkers from shale gas extraction hazards in fulfillment of applicable law.


In conclusion it is imperative that New York’s existing moratorium on shale gas fracking remain in effect until all the documented public health and environmental concerns brought to DOH and DEC’s attention have been fully addressed by the SGEIS and Revised Shale Gas Rulemaking proceedings. The plan of action I am proposing can make sure that goal is achieved.

In closing, I respectfully note that a new poll by Siena College found that Upstate New Yorkers oppose DEC going forward with Marcellus Shale gas fracking by a margin of 45% to 39%. Your administration’s shale gas efforts have clearly failed to inspire public confidence.

This should come as no surprise given the immense confusion, secrecy and inadequacy of DOH and DEC’s efforts. The reported proposal to allow limited shale gas fracking in five counties of the Southern Tier would also be discriminatory.

You have sworn an oath to protect all New Yorkers from environmental hazards, not just some New Yorkers. I know you take that obligation completely seriously.

Thank you for your service. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to meet to discuss these matters.

Very truly yours,

Walter L. T. Hang

Cc: 	Dr. Nirav R. Shah
        Richard Jackson, MD, MPH
        John Adgate, Ph.D., MSPH
        Lynn Goldman, MD, MS, MPH
        Honorable Barbara S. Lifton (125th AD)
        Honorable Matthew T. Ryan (Mayor of Binghamton, NY)
        Honorable Judith Enck (EPA Region 2 Administrator)
        Signatories to the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS coalition letter
        Members of the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel

Appendix A: Toxics Targeting Compilation of Marcellus Shale Documents/Data

1) Coalition Letter To Governor Cuomo Requests Termination of DEC Shale Gas Rulemaking Proposal as well as a Restart of SGEIS Proceeding
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34475

2) Withdraw Revised Draft SGEIS in Order to Eliminate Unplugged and Abandoned Gas and Oil Well Hazards
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34424

3) Withdraw Revised Draft SGEIS in Order to Resolve Inadequate Public Health Assessment Concerns
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34412

4) Unplugged Gas/Oil Well Concerns Documented by DEC Division of Mineral Resources and Other NYS Authorities
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34420

5) DEC’s unplugged abandoned wells database & overview map
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34415

6) 9-26-12 Division of Mineral Resources Documented Oil and Gas Problems
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34369

7) 9/26/12 Letter to Governor Cuomo Documenting Decades of Division of Mineral Resources Enforcement Problems
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/34363

8) Seventy Six Legislators Send Bipartisan Letter to Governor Cuomo Requesting That Six Critical Concerns to Be Fully Resolved Before Shale Gas Fracking is Permitted
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/33707

9) New Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo: Oppose a Possible Southern Tier Fracking Demonstration Project and Require Full Enforcement of Executive Order No. 41
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30995

10) USDA CE Memo
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30924

11) SEQR review requested for LPG shale gas hydraulic fracturing
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30921

12) Cuomo Request to address mortgage lending and gas leasing concerns in DEC’s SEQRA review of Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30893

13) President Obama Letter regarding NEPA implications of horizontal hydrofracturing of shale to extract natural gas
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30892

14) EPA RD SGEIS Comments Letter to Cuomo
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30510

15) 1/11/12 EPA Comments on rdSGEIS
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/30502

16) 12-12-11 Senate Testimony
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/19300

17) Coalition Letter With More Than 10,400 Signatories Requesting Immediate Withdrawal of the RD SGEIS
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/18862

18) Walter Hang’s 11/17/11 Marcellus Shale Revised Draft SGEIS Testimony Binghamton, NY
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/12339

19) Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Ferrugia Family
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/29578

20) Ferrugia Contaminated Drinking Water Well, Jamestown, NY Video
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/videos/2011/11/03/ferrugia

21) Map of Gas Production Wells Near 2641 Donelson Road, Jamestown, NY
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/2641-D…

22) 6/1/09 Letter from Chautauqua County Department of Health
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/090601…

23) 6/30/09 Letter from SUNY Fredonia
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/090630…

24) 7/6/09 Letter from NYSDEC
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/090706…

25) 11/19/09 Letter from Chautauqua County Department of Health
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/091119…

26) CCDOH Complaints Summary for FOIL Response
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/CCDOH-…

27) Harrison 1983
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/Harris…

28) USGS Response to DEC
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/dept-o…

29) Town of Poland DEC Letter
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/Town-o…

30) Natural Gas and Oil Spills Recently Reported to DEC
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/group1…

31) Letter From Veterinarian
Link: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/jamestown/ferrug…

32) Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo to Withdraw RD SGEIS
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/8384

33) Cuomo Letter: Revised Draft SGEIS Gas Drilling and Wastewater Spreading
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/7088

34) Documents Regarding DEC-Approved Gas Drilling Wastewater Spreading for Dust Control, Winter De-icing and Roadbed Stabilization
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6937

35) Stringent EPA Gas Drilling Wastewater Regulatory Requirements Not Being Enforced in NYS/Please Solve This Problem in the Revised draft SGEIS
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6822

36) Letters to Commissioner Martens
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6785

37) Letter to Commissioner Martens Requesting Revision of draft SGEIS to Address Additional Concerns
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6730

38) EPA Detailed Comments on dSGEIS to DEC (Dec.2009)
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6688

39) Accepting Written Public Input Without Further Delay Regarding Revising the draft SGEIS, 6/5/11
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6687

Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6511

41) Gas & Oil Leases Impact on Residential Lending and Tompkins Trust Powerpoint
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6441

42) Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Natural Gas Leasing Impacts on Mortgage Lending
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6442

43) 4/13/11 Letter to Governor Cuomo from New York State Legislators Re: Executive Order No. 41
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/6152

44) Natural Gas Drilling Wastewater Discharged to POTWs in New York’s Finger Lakes Region
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/5824

45) Letter to Commissioner Martens
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/5729

46) EPA, State, & Other Marcellus Shale Documents
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/4458

47) 3-3-11 Letter to Governor Cuomo
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/4459

48) Cuomo Executive Order: Continuation and Expiration of Prior Executive Orders
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/2510

49) Coalition Letter to Governor Cuomo Regarding Executive Order No. 41: Requiring Further Environmental Review of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Combined With Horizontal Drilling
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/736

50) Paterson Executive Order No. 41 Letter
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/732

51) Executive Order’s Erroneous Assertion Regarding Conventional Gas Well Fracking
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/730

Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/721

53) Coalition Cover Letter to Withdraw the draft SGEIS Before You Leave Office
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/719

54) Urgent Letter to Governor Paterson to Withdraw the draft SGEIS Before Leaving Office
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/716

55) Congressman Hinchey’s signature on the coalition letter for withdrawal of the Marcellus Shale draft SGEIS
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/684

56) DEC Memo Regarding Cuts
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/672

57) 9/23/10 Letter to Governor Paterson
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/635

58) 9/20/10 Letter to Andrew Cuomo
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/634

59) Map: Major Drinking Water Supply Watersheds and Aquifers
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/633

60) EPA hydrofracking study comments
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/623

61) New York Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Cuomo: The Marcellus Shale could contribute to New York’s natural gas supply, but development needs to be highly sensitive to environmental concerns.
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/530

62) EPA’s 12/30/2009 letter regarding dSGEIS
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/496

63) 4/2/10 Chautauqua & Cattaraugus County Attachments
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/489

64) US Energy and Allegany County PDFs
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/473

65) Marcellus Shale News Article Compilation
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/465

66) 4/2/10 Letter to DEC Commissioner Grannis Regarding Additional Natural Gas Hazards
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/452

Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/437

68) dSGEIS Comments
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/435

69) Documents Related to Private Water Well Reportedly Impacted by Fracking
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/412

70) Coalition Letter Requesting Governor Paterson to withdraw the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) for Oil and Gas Mining
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/390

71) Oil & Gas Spill Profiles
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/384

72) Bixby Hill Road Documents
Link: http://toxicstargeting.com/node/377

Slow-coming fracking decision very Cuomo-esque – Talia Buford – POLITICO.com

Slow-coming fracking decision very Cuomo-esque – Talia Buford – POLITICO.com.

Shale Gas Review: DEC meeting with enviros suggests SGEIS unfinished Cuomo’s staff wrestles with fracking health questions

Shale Gas Review: DEC meeting with enviros suggests SGEIS unfinished Cuomo’s staff wrestles with fracking health questions.