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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

Janice Fagan
1192 Broadway
Hewlett, NY
Holly Phillips
Chidsey Hill Road
Pulteney, NY
Ann Ellis
2140 Long Creek Road
Apalachin, New York
Helen Cotton
317 Savage Farm Drive
Ithaca, NY
kathryn griffith
136 hawthorne st.
vestal, new york
John Gillen
340 W. 28th St, Apt 4E
New York , NY
Marilyn Wienk
274 Rosedale Street
Rochester, New York
Yoel Rodriguez
475 Grand Concourse A507
Bronx, New york
Donna Muhs- McCarten
8778 Kirkville Rd.
Kirkville, New York
Herbert Engman
Town Supervisor
120 Warren Road
Ithaca, NY
Larysa Dyrszka
124 Chapin Trail
White Lake, New York
Bill McKnight
President and CEO
60 Holland Drive
West Hurley, NY
James & Connie Turner
162 Mason Road
Vestal, NY
Nora Schmidt
2047 Presidio Dr.
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Penny Baron
445 Ferguson Road
Freeville, New York
Robert Nichols
75 State Street
Skaneateles, NY
Robert Miller
PO BOX 543
Hammondsport, NY
Paul Rubin
909 County Rt. 2
Accord, New York
Sue Rapp
248 Noyes Road
Vestal, New York
Barb Hotchkiss
1601 N Cayuga St
Ithaca, NY
Calin Riffle
114 Smith hughes road
Narrowsburg, Ny
Adam Calafut
934 Neal Road
Endicott, NY
Denise Kooperman
Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry
5134 Curry Road
Trumansburg, New York
Richard Stafford
380 Bear Swamp Rd
Chenango Forks, New York
sherman kelly
1679 taughannock blvd.
trumansburg, ny
Lynn Darkow
310 Bristol St.
Canandaigua , NY
Lisa Schwartz
41 1/2 Elm Street
Trumansburg, NY
David Gould
15 Broad St.
New York, NY
Ann Tiffany
340 Midland Ave
Syracuse, NY
Sean Zigmund
64 Mineral Springs Rd.
Livingston Manor, NY
William Hecht
PO Box 86
Union Springs, NY
Donald W Argus
2411 E Calhoun Street
Seattle, WA
Jennifer Markham
31 Camborne Circle
Fairport, NY
Andrew Kurland
35 Bedford St
New York, NEW YORK
Suzanne Green
48 Marsh rd
Ithaca, NY
Eric Slater
49 East 74th Street
New York, NY
Jennifer Schwade
28 Cemetery Lane
McLean, NY
Ronald C Faas
1650 E. Clark Ave. #248
Santa Maria, CA
Taylor Peck
6315 States Road
Alpine, NY
Theresa Chamberlin
147 Sheedy Road
Vestal, NY
Marcia Knapp
8274 Kellogg St.
Clinton, NY
Suzanne Kinder
3 Heppner LANE
Ruby, New York
audrey taylor
2140 antonio dr Avon, NY 14414
avon, ny
Kathryn Tunison
178 Tucker Road
Trumansburg, New York
Marc Devokaitis
321 Pleasant St.
Ithaca, NY
Barbara Warren
Executive Director
33 Central Ave.
Albany, NY, 12210
Richard Kellman
429 Arnold Road
Lisle, NY
Joseph Rosenshein
10 Fountainbleu Drive
Mendon, NY
Jane Welsh
7676 McCormick Road
Hamilton, New York
Scott MacDonald
5 Sherman St.
New Hartford, NY