In a measure backed by the anti-drilling Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the New York State Assembly has set aside $100,000 to conduct an “independent” health impact study of hydraulic fracturing in its budget for next fiscal year. The measure was proposed by NY State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (Democrat from Ithaca, NY). Lifton is part of an anti-drilling cabal of the NRDC, Park Foundation and others who are desperately trying to prevent hydraulic fracturing from happening in New York State. Chief tactic number one? Slow it down by delays and studies until they can eventually kill it.
Environmental and health groups are praising the New York State Assembly for including an independent health impact study of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in its budget proposal on Monday.
Numerous physicians, health organizations and environmental groups have criticized the Department of Environmental Conservation for not including a comprehensive health impact study in its environmental review of gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Gas drilling in New York’s part of the Marcellus Shale has been on hold since the DEC review began in 2008. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens have said the review and new regulations are expected to be completed within a few months.
The Assembly bill would set aside $100,000 for a study by a school of public health within the state university system following a model recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before the study, the school would have to prepare a document outlining its plans, and the public would have the opportunity to comment and suggest changes.
The study would include research into other states’ experiences with fracking; estimated costs of any health impacts to the state, insurers, employers and the health care system; and a long-term plan for monitoring and mitigating health impacts.
“This study will go a long way to answer the many questions New Yorkers have about what fracking would mean for their health if this goes forward,” Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, who proposed the study, said in a prepared statement. Lifton is a Democrat from Ithaca.
“New York State has to date failed to take a hard look at the health impacts of fracking,” said Katherine Nadeau of NRDC. “By calling for an independent study of fracking’s health impacts, the Assembly is leading the charge to provide state leaders with the science necessary to make informed decisions.”*
Fortunately the New York Senate version of the budget doesn’t have this huge-waste-of-taxpayer-money-transparently-yet-another-delay-tactic in it. However, NY Republicans have been somewhat spineless when it comes to safe drilling in the state, so who knows what will happen when this reaches reconciliation?
*Syracuse The Post-Standard/AP (Mar 12, 2012) – New York Assembly calls for hydrofracking health impact study