Letter Sent to Governor Cuomo
A group of doctors, medical associations, and environmental groups sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asking for a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, on public health.
Fracking is an alternative method of drilling for natural gas.
Environmental Study Left Out Public Health Impact
New York conducted a study on the environmental impact of fracking, taking into account the possible impact fracking will have on job creation, the character of communities, damage to roads, and wildlife. However, the impact fracking will have on public health was not evaluated.
The group sited in their letter documented cases of the negative health impact of residents living near gas wells and waste pits elsewhere in the country, from exposure to toxic chemicals
which are used for gas exploration and production. Among the health risks the doctors mentioned were problems breathing and the development of asthma.
The letter was signed by over 250 physicians and other anti-drilling groups, including the Catskill Mountainkeeper. The letter stated in part,
“The environmental impacts of gas development include air and water pollution and soil contamination, which are clearly established pathways for health impacts.”
Officials Counter Safeguards in Place
State officials from the environmental department defended themselves by saying that the proposed rules for the development of fracking in New York do take into consideration the health issues experienced in other states. They asserted that strict requirements will be incorporated into the procedures for the employment of fracking which will prevent those health issues from developing in New York.
The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, the group that represents the natural gas industry in the state, asserted in a statement that safeguards will be incorporated into the drilling process which will prevent any health problem from developing.
“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,” it said.