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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

Brian Lowe
6 Jeannette Drive
Otego, New York
Janice Ulangca
Chair Person
3413 Stratford Drive
Vestal, NY
Brian Greeson
71 Willis Avenue
South Wales, NY
Paul Houston
1047 Snyder Hill Rd.
Ithaca, New York
ruth kahn
8315 route 227
trumansburg, new york
Mary Heaton
6 Northrup Ave.
Norwich, NY
Kenneth Fogarty
746 Gospel Hill Road
Guilford, NY
David Schwartz
1190 E. Shore Dr.
Ithaca, NY
Susan McDonnell
19 Susan Lane
Cortlandt Manor, NY
Gilly Burlingham
6320 Soper Rd.
Perry, NY
Yvonne Tasker Rothenberg
5211 Hook Circle
Jamesville, N.Y.
mary campbell
9959 mutton hollow rd
prattsburgh, ny
Julie Wityk
560 W. 218th Street
New York, NY
Thomas Hill
1005 Comfort Road
Spencer, NY
Dene Karaus
PO Box 32
Wayne, NY
Beth Medvecky
101 Bald Hill School Rd
Brooktondale, New York
Deena Rambaum
161 Gray Rd
Ithaca, NY
Joseph Holdner
Taxpayer and voter
109 Grassy Ridge Road
Olivebridge, New York
Thomas Bornemann
Democratic District Leader 37th AD part B
21-26 Menahan St.
Ridgewood, NY
Leigh Melander
174 Mayer Road
Andes, New York
Elisa Evett
298 Bald Hill Rd.
Brooktondale, New York
Jayne Port
246 Smith Rd
Newfield, NY
Ellen Cantarow
27 Austin Road
Medford, MA
Salvatore IANNELLO
110 Grassy Ridge Rd.
Olivebridge, NY
sara worden,
8315 rte 227
trumansburg, new york
Dorothy Tang
423 Beaver Meadow Road
Cooperstown, New York
Nancy Mendillo
11 quill ave
auburn, ny
Stephen Engleman
125 Valley View Rd
Ithaca, NY
James W. Hamilton
Vice Chairman
1603 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, New York
Jerald Shing
230 Valley Road
Ithaca, NY
Judith M. Fitzgerald
560 West 218th Street, Apt. 6A
New York, New York
Norman Farwell
643 County Hwy 8
Morris, NY
frank C. badwin
149 pine tree road
ithaca, N.Y.
Dennis Higgins
Assistant Professor
592 County Route 5
Otego, NY
Eric Banford
401 E Miller Rd
Ithaca, NY
Laura Jones
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
507 Cayuga Heights Road
Ithaca, NY
Ken Zeserson
83 Maplewood Road
Ithaca, NY
Sharon Ziegler
805 No. Cayuga St.
Ithaca, New York
Jane Schantz
142 Indian Creek Road, Apt 1
Ithaca, NY
Christine Viola
415 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, New York
Jonathan Culler
909 Wyckoff Road
Ithaca, NY, 14850
Diane Stein
40 Harrison Street, Apt. 15A
New York, New York
Gail Goldsmith
Nancy Feinstein
13321 state route 54 hammondsport ny 14810
Hammondsport , Ny
Carole Marner
1245 Oak Hill Road
Franklin, NY 13775
Kristina Turechek
392 Hathaway Road
Otego, NY
The Rev. Linda Wilson
Priest of CACINA & President of Bibliobarn Rare & Used Books
627 Roses Brook Rd. P. O. Box 154
South Kortright, NY 13842
Sandra Kissam
P.O. Box 90
Blooming Grove, N.Y.
Aimee Arceo
77 Cheshire Lane
East Amherst, NY
Arthur Fry
13 Briarwood Lane
Newfield, NY