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Fracking review under New York assembly budget

16th March 2012

The impact on the environment and human health of accessing shale gas reserves will be examined as part of a review funded by the New York State Assembly’s annual budget

Fracking activities to come under close scrutiny

An independent health impact study of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas has been factored into the budget proposal for the New York State Assembly, AP reported in March.

The Department of Environmental Conservation was criticised earlier this year by health and environment group for not including a comprehensive health impact study in its environmental review of gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Gas drilling in New York’s part of the Marcellus Shale has been on hold since the DEC review began in 2008 but not the review looks likely to be completed for the end of the month. 

The Assembly bill would set aside USD 100,000 for a study by a school of public health within the state university system following a model recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before the study, the school would have to prepare a document outlining its plans, and the public would have the opportunity to comment and suggest changes.

The study would include research into other states’ experiences with fracking; estimated costs of any health impacts to the state, insurers, employers and the health care system; and a long-term plan for monitoring and mitigating health impacts.

“This study will go a long way to answer the many questions New Yorkers have about what fracking would mean for their health if this goes forward,” Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, who proposed the study, said in a prepared statement.

“New York State has to date failed to take a hard look at the health impacts of fracking,” said Katherine Nadeau of NRDC. “By calling for an independent study of fracking’s health impacts, the Assembly is leading the charge to provide state leaders with the science necessary to make informed decisions,” she said.