Here’s the crux of an unreleased (but leaked) New York Department of Environmental Conservation report that weighs the public health impact of natural gas development through hydraulic fracturing:
“…significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine (fracking) operations. When spills or accidents occur, the department has identified numerous additional mitigation measures, including emergency-response planning, setbacks and buffers, so that significant exposures to people and resources on which they rely are unlikely."
Shorter version: Fracking can be done safely in New York.
The report leaked to the New York Times and other news outlets is about a year old, raising some eyebrows as to why a final state decision on shale energy development through hydraulic fracturing – blocked for more than four years – continues to be delayed. “No conclusions should be drawn from this partial, outdated summary,” a DEC spokeswoman told the New York Post – sounding a bit like the “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” line from “The Wizard of Oz.”
More important is the need for New York to get on with energy development that could create thousands of new jobs while stimulating a state economy in need of boosting. New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau:
“Reports that the New York State Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that hydraulic fracturing could be conducted safely in New York should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this industry grow and prosper across the United States. In fact, these reports confirm what has been clear for some time now: Sensible regulations can ensure safe natural gas development will protect land, water and public health while providing tens of thousands of good jobs throughout the Marcellus Shale. … New York can create more than 25,000 jobs, save family farms, keep families together and lift entire communities by moving forward with safe natural gas development.”
Others reacting included Brad Gill of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, who told the Post:
“We just certainly hope that the obstacles will stop being thrown in the way and the industry can begin drilling here.”
Scott Kurkosi of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York told the newspaper that shale energy from fracking can make up for power from a nuclear plant Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to close:
“We have to find a replacement source, and the answer is right under our feet. It’s clean energy and will reduce greenhouse gases.”
The governor has said he would lift the state fracking moratorium if the process is shown to be safe. North Dakota, Texas, neighboring Pennsylvania and other states have shown that effective state regulation can ensure safe and responsible energy development using hydraulic fracturing. The leaked New York study certainly appears to underscore the conclusion that it’s time for the Empire State to get fracking.