December 17, 2012
Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH
New York State Health Commissioner
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12237
Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH
Chair, Environmental Health Sciences Department
Los Angeles, CA 90095
John Adgate, Ph.D., MSPH
Chair, Occupational and Environmental Health
Colorado School of Public Health
13001 E. 17th Place, B119
Building 500, E3317A
Aurora, CO 80045
Lynn Goldman, MD, MS, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health and Health Services
2175 K. Street, NW 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
I write because you are reportedly undertaking the New York State Department of Health's (DOH) proposed Review of the Marcellus Shale "health impact analysis" conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Your DOH Review is critically important because its findings will purportedly help Governor Andrew M. Cuomo decide whether to permit shale gas extraction activities in New York. The Cuomo administration has stated that no Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) or shale gas Revised Rulemaking Proposal will be adopted until your DOH Review is completed.
Your DOH Review has received extensive criticism because it has not involved any public notice, opportunity for public comment or even a single public hearing regarding the scope of the proceeding or how it would be carried out. Public participation is clearly essential in a proceeding of this public policy importance.
A number of letters sent to Governor Cuomo as well as DOH Commissioner Shah and DEC Commissioner Martens express strong opposition to the way your DOH Review is being conducted. Those letters request that your DOH Review be put on-hold until requirements for public participation are fulfilled.
Multiple Letters Sent to Cuomo Administration Requesting Public Participation for Your DOH Review
A. A total of 128 signatories who are all government officials sent a letter requesting full public participation for your DOH Review. At least 25 of those signatories are Mayors and Town Supervisors. Many of those signatories represent communities that could be harmed by improperly regulated Marcellus Shale gas extraction activities. See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/cuomo/gov-coalition-letter...
B. A total of 2,946 signatories sent a letter which requests that DEC's shale gas Rulemaking proceeding be terminated and the SGEIS be restarted to allow public comment regarding how your DOH Review should be undertaken. See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/letters/2012/11/28/cuomo
C. Three Chairs of New York State Assembly Committees and a Commission wrote to request that the comment period for DEC's draft shale gas regulations be suspended pending public participation in your DOH Review. See: http://toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/Assembly-Fracking-jo...
D. A letter is being circulated among New York State Legislators which requests that neither the SGEIS nor shale gas regulations be finalized pending fulfillment of requested public participation requirements for your DOH Review. This letter reportedly has 46 signatories. See: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/lifton_signon_20...
Governor Cuomo Has Failed to Fulfill DOH Review Public Participation Requests
To date, Governor Cuomo has failed to fulfill any of the requests he has received for DOH Review public participation. He has not provided any rationale for conducting your DOH Review in secret without any opportunity for public input.
DEC Shale Gas Revised Rulemaking Proceeding
DEC recently concluded the comment period for its shale gas Revised Rulemaking Proposal. This proceeding was intended to translate a Final SGEIS into regulatory requirements. Given that no Final SGEIS has been adopted because your DOH Review has yet to be completed, DEC effort is premature and improper.
DEC's Revised Rulemaking Proposal is also troubling because DEC's draft regulations completely fail to address numerous critical concerns documented in comments regarding the profound inadequacy of the Revised Draft SGEIS.
This concern is spelled out in my submitted comments: http://www.toxicstargeting.com/MarcellusShale/documents/comments/2013/01...
Reviewers Each Asked to Take Action to Prevent Finalization of DOH Review Until Public Participation Requests Are Fulfilled
Given these concerns and Governor Cuomo's refusal to respond favorably to public participation requests, I write to ask each of you to take individual action to prevent your DOH Review from being finalized until the following key public participation requests are fulfilled:
1) Immediate written public notice must be provided regarding the intent and scope of your proposed DOH Review;
2) DEC's Marcellus Shale "health impact analysis" must be released for public review;
3) At least one public hearing must be held to allow you to hear testimony about how your proposed DOH Review should be undertaken; and
4) A minimum 30 days must be provided for public review and comment of your proposed DOH Review.
I trust that you will find my respectful request self-explanatory, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions that I might be able to answer.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
Very truly yours,