A group people who live (or, in one case, used to live) in heavily fracked parts of Pennsylvania paid a visit to Albany today to share their stories and to urge Governor Cuomo not to allow new fracking in New York State while serious questions remain as to the causes of health problems being reported across their state.
Joining them were several public health and medical experts, who gave statements explaining why the continuing dearth of research and evidence-backed scientific facts means that we cannot understand why people and animals are experiencing these harms or, by extension, how to prevent them.
As I previously blogged, just last week the University of Pennsylvania announced that a coalition of Ivy League-level institutions was embarking on some of the first studies of their kind to perform exactly the kind of research and data collection that is so sorely needed to begin answering these questions.
Unfortunately, an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline for the state to finalize its fracking regulations is rapidly approaching. Because the Department of Environmental Conservation chose to prematurely release revised draft regulations in December – before the state’s ongoing environmental and health review processes were even complete – the agency now must issue final rules on February 27th or go through another round of public comments.
But those essential review processes still aren’t complete and – critically – the health review remains shrouded in secrecy.
Governor Cuomo should instruct DEC not to make the same mistake twice. Instead of rushing out final regulations at the end of next month, DEC should be directed to open up the on-going health review to review and comment by the public and state-based medical professionals. You can urge the Governor to take this critical step by sending him a message here.
Vast uncertainty still surrounds the fracking-health connection. Under these circumstances, we urge the Governor to ensure that the state’s health review will ask – and answer – this crucial question: do we know enough about what is going wrong in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to assure New Yorkers that their air, water, communities and health won’t be subjected to a similar fate?