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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

Daniel McCormack
13 Beehive Rd.
Accord, New York
michael ashkin
Associate Professor
117 elmwood ave.
Ithaca, NY
Peter Davies
755 Snyder Hill Road
Ithaca, NY
Kristen Nygren
Medical Director, Family and Children's Services
101 Rachel Carson Way
ITHACA, NY - New York
Donald Mintz
29 Whig Street
Trumansburg, NY
Steven Handwerker
po box 880229
Boca raton, FL
Lesley Brill
P. O. Box 123
Alfred Station, NY
John Friel
521 West State Road
Cortland, New York
Taffy Williams
191 Westchester Avenue
Tuckahoe, New York
Toby Stover
81 Clove Valley Road
High Falls, NY
Peggy Renwick
1676 Hanshaw Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Julie Elson
510 W.Lawrence St.
Albany, NY
Alicia Pagano
12562 county highway 23
Unadilla, New york
Jill Marie
Comfort Road
Spencer, New York
Margaret Hill
P.O.Box 3709
Poughkeepsie, NY
Joseph Wilson
75 Hunt Hill
Ithaca, New York
Catherine Lewis
242 Cedar Cove
Lansing, NY
rich donato
261 s applegate rd.
ithaca, ny
Victor De Leon
247 East 37th Street
Roberta Wallitt
520 Coddington Rd.
Ithaca, NY
katherine burns
5115 otisco rd.
tully, ny
Leslie Potter
109 Main St.
Big Flats, NY
398 State Route 69 (Amboy)
Williamstown, NY
Kasey Klingensmith
PO BOX 549
Alfred, NY
Harry Levine
P.O. Box 25
Springfield Center, New York
Jo Ellen del Campo
43 Hillcrest Drive
Alfred, NY
Karen Brennan
4992 Fox Hole Rd
Moravia, New York
Milene Morfei
2287 Center Rd.
Scipio Center, NY
John A. del Campo,
49 Hillcrest Drive
Alfred, NY
Belinda Howell
P O Box 6845
Ithaca, New York
Theodore weiner
329 second ave
nyc, NY
Cathy Caruth
Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters
108 Oak Hill Rd.
Ithaca, NY
George Koury
Education Coordinator
8 Sahler Mill Road
Olivebridge, New York
joseph kotula
buidings and grounds officer
3621 roberts rd
westclarksville, NY
ron wish
112 highmount ave
nyack, ny
Steven Jonas
Dept. Prev. Med., Stony Brook Univ.
Stony Brook, NY
Rosemary Hancock
14205 Keuka Village Rd.
Dundee, Ny
Mark Pezzati
56 Mayer Road
Andes, New York
Harry DeLano
BUFFALO, NY - New York
Gail Flanery
1137 Hedgewood Lane
Niskayuna, NY
Barbara Usher
144 Besemer Hill Rd
Ithaca, NY
Barbara Horton
5221 Krums Corners Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Michael Gorr
8 Deer Run
Skaneateles, NY
Sharon Kahkonen
4735 Williamee road
Trumansburg, NY
James Connor
4735 Williamee road
Trumansburg, NY
Joan Farber
400 West 23rd St
New York, New York
Tony Martignetti
90 Park Terrace East
New York, NY
Charleen Heidt
Executive Consultant
107 West Falls Street
Ithaca, NY
Caroline Martin
Founding member
P.O. Box 97
Downsville, NY
James Ayers
759 Samsonville Road
Kerhonkson, NY