Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Applauds DEC Commissioner Martens' Decision to Delay Fracking until Public Health Review is Completed

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) applauded the decision of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens to delay issuing the final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State after Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah alerted the DEC that he would need more time to complete the public health review.

“It is a true testament to the strength of the anti-fracking movement that the DEC yielded and said that it would not issue the final SGEIS until the public health review could be completed,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “For months, the public has been clamoring for a comprehensive public health impacts assessment to be conducted, and today, the public’s message was heard. It would have been highly irresponsible for the DEC to have issued the final SGEIS without a review of data on the public health."

In September 2012, after Assemblymember Rosenthal and advocates repeated the call for a health impacts assessment to discern the impacts that fracking might have on public health, the DEC agreed to conduct a limited public health review of documents already in its possession, and charged New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, to lead a group of three independent health experts in that review. Despite calls for details about the public health review it is conducting, the DOH has remained largely silent about the scope of its study, and has refused even to reveal the documents it is reviewing.

Before today, the agency was on track to issue the final regulations on February 27, 2013, before the public health review was complete. That would have meant that the SGEIS would have to have been finalized tomorrow. Commissioner Shah’s announcement today that the public health review would not be completed for some weeks signals that the Administration takes seriously the concerns of advocates, public health and environmental experts and elected officials.

“While I am pleased by today’s decision, it is my sincere hope that the Administration would heed the warnings of public health and environmental experts to stop this process in its entirety until a comprehensive and wholly independent health study can be completed, and not merely a review of existing DEC documents,” concluded Assemblymember Rosenthal.