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Coalition Letter Requests That Formal Public Participation and Major Revisions for DOH Review of HVHF Be Adopted

February 24, 2013

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York
The State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We, the undersigned, write respectfully to request that you:

a) immediately put on-hold your Department of Health's (DOH) Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) pending fulfillment of formal public participation requirements;

b) resolve the fundamental shortcomings of your Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS); and

c) withhold completion of the DOH Review pending review of the final results of three investigations that your Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah called "...the first comprehensive studies of HVHF health impacts at either the state or federal level."

d) require all these critical concerns to be addressed openly and transparently before your DOH completes its Public Health Review and DEC adopts a Final SGEIS based on the findings and recommendations of that DOH Review.

DOH Commissioner States That HVHF Review Requires Additional Time to be Completed

On February 12, 2013, Dr. Shah wrote to your DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens and stated:

"In September, you asked me to initiate a Public Health Review of the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF)."

"The Department of Health review is considering whether the final draft SGEIS adequately identifies potential public health impacts of HVHF and whether additional mitigation measures are needed beyond those already proposed in the draft SGEIS."

"The decision to permit HVHF is important, and involves complex questions about the impact of the process on public health. The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling (emphasis in the original)."

Dr. Shah concluded: "the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues."

You were quoted on February 13, 2013 that hydraulic fracturing is "too important to make a mistake (emphasis added)." You were also quoted that you would not rush Dr. Shah to meet an "arbitrary (emphasis added)" deadline for completing the DOH Review.

DOH Review Requires Public Participation and Major Revisions

We could not agree more with your sentiments. That is why we write to ask that you fulfill the following requests.

A. Above all, it is inconceivable that the critically important DOH Review is being conducted totally in secret without any opportunity for public input. That is completely contrary to the "open" and "transparent" government you promised your administration would provide.

We also believe that you are required to provide formal public participation for the DOH Public Health Review. State law and regulations are clear about the reason for environmental impact statements (EISs). New York has an "obligation to protect the environment for the use and enjoyment of this and all future generations." In defining the word "environment," "human health" is specifically noted. The statute on environmental impact statements also makes explicit the requirement to "solicit comment" for proposals "that may significantly affect the quality of the environment."

We request that you immediately:

1) Put on-hold the DOH Public Health Review of HVHF pending fulfillment of all requested public participation requirements;

2) Provide written public notice of the intent and scope of the DOH Public Health Review as well as how it is being undertaken and all other appropriate disclosures regarding the proceeding;

3) Hold at least one public hearing to allow Dr. Shah and the three outside experts to hear testimony from interested parties about how the DOH Public Health Review should be undertaken in order to fulfill its mandate; and

4) Require a minimum 30-day public review and comment period regarding the DOH Review.

B. The DOH Review must resolve the shortcomings of a draft SGEIS that fails to document: 1) the full spectrum of air, land and water pollutants generated by HVHF; 2) the environmental fate and transport of those HVHF contaminants; 3) if the public is exposed to HVHF contaminants and for how long and at what concentration; and 4) the potential health outcomes caused by those exposures.

A previously secret State Health Impact Assessment document was recently reported by the press. It reports:

"...human chemical exposures during normal HVHF operations will be prevented or reduced below levels of significant health concern. Thus, significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF 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."

These critical assertions are directly contradicted by extensive information that DEC deliberately excluded from earlier draft SGEISs, including hundreds of natural gas/oil fires, explosions, polluted water supply wells, uncontrolled drilling wastewater discharges, abandoned and unplugged wells, illegal brine pits and home evacuations due to gas intrusion. These hazards are documented in New York State by DEC and local health departments in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

Many of these incidents caused public health impacts far beyond the setbacks and buffers proposed by DEC in its Revised Rulemaking proposal.

Given these concerns, we request that the DOH Review include a detailed analysis of all these documented incidents with regard to DEC's proposed mitigation measures.

See Appendix A: New York State Data Sources Requested to be Included in DOH Public Health Impact Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

C. We request that the DOH Review must not be completed until it includes an assessment of the final results of at least the three investigations referenced in Dr. Shah's letter to Commissioner Martens. He wrote that: "These are the first comprehensive studies of HVHF health impacts at either the state or federal level (emphasis added)." We believe "prudence dictates (emphasis added)" that the DOH Review must assess the final results of these "first comprehensive studies (emphasis added)."


You have repeatedly vowed that your final decision whether to allow HVHF Marcellus Shale gas extraction in New York would be based on "facts and information." With that goal in mind, we request that you require the actions specified in this letter to be fulfilled without regard to any "arbitrary" deadline.

We trust that you will find our request self-explanatory. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to receiving your prompt reply.

Very truly yours,

Total Signatory Count: 2299

james hover
7631 andrew ferry rd
Amond, new york
Barbara Green
317 Fairport Rd.
East Rochester, NY
Nancy Delmerico
81 Grandview
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Allan Hochberg
705 Old lane Road
Vestal, NY
Judith Abrams
1679 Taughannock Blvd
Trumansburg, NY
Donna Every
428 Boswell Hill Rd.
Endicott, N.Y
Gerri Wiley
19 Lake Street
Owego, NY
Camille Firpo
93 Beartown Road
Port Crane, NY
julie kulik
276 Bald Hill Rd
Spencer, NY
Elizabeth Hull
1499 Mill Rd
Binghamton, NY
Julie Huntsman
Councilwoman, Town of Otsego
2151 County Highway 26
Fly Creek, NY 13337
George Gagne
18007 Pompey Center Road
Fabiius, NY
John Leon
Division Chair, Ophthalmology
652 Bever Meadow Rd
Cooperstown, NY
Holly Adams
607 Stilson Road
Hunt, NY
Gary Stephens
225 West 106th Street, Apartment 9M
New York, NY
Gregory Subtelny
9211 Hatch Rd.
Trumansburg, NY
Patrick Dietz
335 Glimmerglen road
Cooperstown, NY
Elsie Rhodes
25 Church Street
Cooperstown, NY
Jean Finch
226 Co. Hwy 26
Cooperstown,, N.Y.
David Gallahan
511 Spencer Rd
Ithaca, NY
Angela Monti Fox
2753 Broadway, Suite 186
New York, New York
Anthony Suchman
277 Goodman St N, #205
Rochester, New York
jane meader
59 palmear rd
freeville, NY
Mary A Thuma
PO Box 613, 120 Pleasant Meadow Road
Cooperstown, NY
Lewis Klingensmith
2461 Morrcrest Drive
Corning, NY
John S Davis
Director of Medical Education Emeritus
190 Ottaway Road
Cooperstown, NY
Alison Rich
7 Chiappardi Place
Beacon, NY
Brian Brown
Senior Scientist, Analytical Chemist
2831 LaFayette Road
LaFayette, NY
Jayne Frye
290 Wells Road
South New Berlin, NY
Amy DeMaranville Hitchcock
2622 Grandview place
Endicott, Ny
D. Iris Thor
Retired-former Director of S.O.S. Shelter Inc.
410 Bunn Hill Road
Vestal, New York
julien koschmann
Professor of History
705 ringwood road
Ithaca, NY
Philip Snyder
53 Myers Road
Lansing, NY
Robert Lederman
555 Bway
Peter Robbins
1120 Chaffee Rd
Arcade, NY
Sue Miller
E. Campville Road
Endicott, NY
lINDA Robbins
1120 Chaffee Rd
Arcade, NY
Tom Olenych
Chairman of the planning board for Scipio Center, NY 13147
4016 Rt. 34
Scipio Center, NY
jill nord
7715 62 st
glendale, ny
Heather Healey
Senior Engineer
106 W State St
Ithaca, NY
Deborah Rifkin
Associate Professor and Chair of Department
Ithaca, New York
joseph ziegler
297 hunt hill rd.
port crane, n.y.
Sueane Hemmer Goodreau
633 Ringwood Road
Ithaca, NY
Margaret Flanagan
35-20 Leverich St. B420
Jackson Heights, New York
Elizabeth Davis
166 Catlin Hill Road
Owego, NY
John Carnahan
Visiting Professor
5626 State Hwy 51
Burlington Flats, NY
Phillip Sweeney
103 Shamrock Place
Harpursville, NY
Sarah Ohsley
Executive Director
PO Box 6828
Ithaca, NY
patricia jacob
129 peebles hill road
oneonta, new york
bernadette cullen
adjunct professor
345 Eighth Avenue, Apt. 17H,
New York , New York