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After sustained pressure from environmental activists and their allies in government, Governor Cuomo’s administration last week took a positive step in the fight against hydrofracking in New York State.
Per a request made by the commissioner of the state Department of Health, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that it would delay the finalization of its supplemental generic environmental impact statement, or S.G.E.I.S., on hydrofracking until the ongoing study of the potential health impacts of the controversial dangerous drilling method is completed.
Before this announcement, D.E.C. was slated to complete the S.G.E.I.S. and issue final regulations before the end of this month, officially opening the door to hydrofracking in New York State. This delay effectively continues the prohibition on hydrofracking, since no permits can be issued before the final environmental impact statement is released.
New state Senator Brad Hoylman called for a ban on the drilling technique in the Empire State.
“I strongly believe that hydrofracking should be prohibited throughout all of New York State,” Hoylman said. “In my first days in office, I submitted comments on D.E.C.’s draft hydrofracking regulations in which I strongly urged the agency to halt its march toward permitting tracking until the health study had been completed. I noted: ‘The sequencing and apparent lack of transparency of this process undermines public confidence in our state’s commitment to protect our precious natural resources and public health from the dangers of fracking,’ and I pushed D.E.C. to commit to release the health impact analysis for public review and to formally consider additional public comments on any updated or amended regulations upon the completion of all ongoing analyses.”
Earlier this month, Hoylman also joined Assemblymember Barbara Lifton of Ithaca-Tompkins County and many of their colleagues in the state Legislature in sending a letter to Governor Cuomo expressing serious concerns about what Hoylman blasted as “the utter lack of transparency in D.O.H.’s health impact study,” and urged D.E.C. to withhold adoption of the final environmental impact statement pending the completion of a robust and public health impact review.
“While I continue to have reservations about the secrecy of the health impact study, I am pleased that D.O.H. and D.E.C. heard our call and have agreed to slow the process down,” Hoylman said. “We can’t let the interests of the drilling industry dictate the pace of the state’s review of the dangers of hydrofracking. The only way to ensure that this review is credible is to make the process by which it is conducted as open and transparent as possible.”