Statement Urging Legislature to Hold Health Commissioner Accountable on Fracking Stud

Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director

ALBANY, NY (01/29/2013)(readMedia)-- Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 30, 2013, Commissioner Nirav Shah of the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will appear before the Legislature to discuss Governor Cuomo's proposed budget. With the Governor's decision on fracking expected within weeks, Environmental Advocates of New York has issued the following statement encouraging members of the Legislature to hold Commissioner Shah accountable for the administration's undisclosed health study on the impacts of fracking.

"The secrecy has gone on long enough. It is time for Commissioner Shah to come clean with the public, share the administration's health study, and fully disclose the ideas and concerns of the national experts that DOH has contracted with, but who have been forbidden from public comment throughout this secretive process.

Commissioner Shah's responsibility is to protect public health, and secret studies behind closed doors leave the public at risk.

Governor Cuomo's administration has seemingly gone out of their way to undertake one of the most backwards and secretive processes imaginable, despite fracking being one of the most serious public policy concerns in memory. Many important questions remain, and we strongly urge Commissioner Shah to answer the following questions:

• Who completed the Department of Environmental Conservation's study on the health impacts of fracking?

• What factors were considered in the preparation of this study?

• Why has the DOH refused to abide the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and not share this study with those who have requested it for more than four months?

• Why is the administration opposed to an independent health study?

• Will the administration allow the public to hear from the three national experts reviewing the study?

• Will the administration agree to release the study today?

• Will the administration pledge to allow the public ample opportunity to review and comment on the findings in the study before any final decision is made?"