As New York State considers whether or not to allow hydraulic fracturing, officials have been conducting a seemingly comprehensive risk assessment, studying the effects of fracking on everything from job creation to animal habitats. But, shockingly, the study completely omits examining the risks to public health. A group of doctors and environmentalists wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo this week, urging him to complete a comprehensive study of the potential health risks for people who could be exposed to toxic chemicals and tainted water because of fracking.
The doctors cite a growing list of documented health cases of people living near gas wells and waste pits who experience deteriorating health, breathing difficulties, and increased cases of asthma. “The environmental impacts of gas development include air and water pollution and soil contamination, which are clearly established pathways for health impacts,” reads the letter, which was signed by more than 250 doctors and anti-drilling groups.
The DEC’s environmental impact study is currently under public review, and critics are displeased with the fact that it considers non-environmental aspects, like job creation, while completely omitting public health. But officials maintain that they completed a thorough review of health problems in other states and incorporated rules into their proposed guidelines that would prevent these same issues in New York.
The New York Times also quoted a statement from the natural gas industry group, ensuring that public health would be safe:
While some will suggest the hydraulic fracturing process poses a threat to human health, regulations and permit conditions have been and will be in place to prevent pathways to humans and the environment, similar to those in effect for many other industries.
Well, if the regulations and permits are anything like those for the oil industry, then we’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s not like there have been any recent oil spills that devastated the environment and made residents sick. Nope, none at all.
If you have questions about fracking that you would like to have answered, Joe Martens, head of the Department of Environmental Conservation, will be answering questions this coming Saturday morning on Governor Cuomo’s CitizensConnect website.