Last month’s announcement by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a study on the health effects of hydrofracking has opponents calling for the state to use outside experts.
DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said the state wouldn’t be commissioning an outside study, according to the New York Times, however, the health commissioner has been instructed to consult with outside sources for the review.
“It is exciting news,” said hydrofracking opponent Carleton Corey, owner of The Mum Farm in New Hartford. “The only concern I have with it is that the state of New York, the health department, does a better job utilizing other sources of information in science than only the industry.”
Bonnie Reynolds, owner and manager of Spring Farm Cares in New Hartford, said she would’ve liked the health assessment done as an independent study to ensure it’s an “honest assessment.”
“We should be jumping up and down with joy because they finally are going to do what we’ve been asking all along,” she said. “This shows a very, very sad path that we’ve come to between the people and the government. We don’t trust these people farther than we can throw them.”
Hydrofracking involves mixing chemicals with millions of gallons of water and pumping the mixture into wells to create fractures in rock formations that allow natural gas to be harvested.
It is not permitted in the state while the DEC studies the environmental impact.
Delays in the state’s decision on whether to allow hydrofracking could continue as the state does its health review. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refused to set a date saying it would impose a “political timetable on what we said was an informational, scientific process,” according to the Associated Press.
Oneida County Legislator George Joseph, R - Clinton, has said he backs Cuomo’s previous proposal to allow hydrofracking in the southern counties that have expressed interest. With the latest development, Joseph said they’re going in the right direction and doing their “due diligence.”
“Time is not of essence in this case,” he said. “I think the delay helps answer some of the concerns people have.”
Adam Schultz, a Syracuse attorney who represents oil and gas industries, confirmed the study will make the state’s decision more “defensible.”
“It will be a temporary delay in approving (hydrofracking), but it will make a defensible record,” he said. “It’ll be easier to defend the litigation, and that’s really the result of it.”