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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

nathaniel posner
1432 county highway 8
otego, NY
Sue Panetta
--, NY
Margaret Smith-Burke
141 Wooster St. Apt 8B
New York, NY
Linde van Groeningen
PO Box 166
Guilford, New York
Jerone Gagliano
Director of Engineering
217 Park Pl
Ithaca, New York
Jerry Ravnitzky
124 Hill Street
Mahopac, New York
Kate Rezelman
107 Campbell St
Bath, NY
Beverly Singer
2 Denton Rd
Binghamton, NY
Karen Olsen
460 Troy Rd
Ithaca , New York
Lesley Adams
630 S. Main ST.
Geneva, ny
Alice Bartholomew
415 Wall Street
Elmira, NY
Christopher Origer
26 Chadwick Road
Binghamton, NY
Anne Klingensmith
41 Muzzy Road
Ithaca, NY
Angelika Rashkow
Greenough Rd
Cooperstown, NY
Delores Bennett
PO Box 556
Unadilla, NY
Kim Benson
3702 Saddleback Rd
Canandaigua, New York
Nancy Kasper
9393 York Settlement Rd
North Rose, NY
Charles Gibson
President of The Friends of The Montezuma Wetlands Complex
162 Canal St.
Lyons, NY
William Messner
178 Ellis Hill Rd
Arkport, NY
Nancy Donnan Coleman
4690 White Road
Livonia, NY
Eric Watkins
106 Texas Lane
Ithaca, New York
Stephen Hilgartner
533 Cayugua Heights Road
Ithaca, NY
Elizabeth MacFarland
2130 The Plaza
Niskayuna, New York
Lizette Colon
355 8th Ave Apt 17D
James Bernegger
Founding Partner
517 CO HWY 27
Richfield Springs , NY. 13438
Rose Hilbert
112 E. Main St.
Trumansburg, NY
William Barnett
40 Genung Circle
Ithaca, New York
Theresa F Alt
206 Eddy St.
Ithaca, NY
Norma Kinney
400 county rd31
norwich, ny
Linda Lavine
719 Ringwood Rd. Dryden
Dryden, NY
Stuart Anderson
238 Main Street
Otego, NY
Roy Bartoo
103 Woodview Lane
Morris, New York
janet ievins
712 s modoc av
Medford--previous 45 yrs in Vestal, NY, OR
Diane MacInnes
739 Oquaga Lake Rd
Deposit (town of Sanford), NY
Kelly Branigan
Founding Member
467 Springfield Hill Rd.
Cooperstown, NY
robert weinberger
417 western heights blvd
endicott, new york
Carol Ransom
21 McDuffy Hollow Rd
Van Etten, NY
Susan Daum
16 East 96th Street #5A
New York, NY
Elaine Livingston
1403 Glenwood Road
Vestal, NY
James Dean
15 Delaware Street
Cooperstown, New York
Dan DeZarn
3965 Spring Road East
West Sparta, NY
Katharine Payne
Natrural Resources committee
1743 ellis hollow rd
Ithaca , 14850
Larry V. Snider
69 Burdette Drive
Cheektowaga, New York
Martha Brewster
376 Shaffer Rd
Newfield , NY
Reeve Parker
123 N. Quarry Street
Ithaca, NY
Thomas Mitchell
10121 Hyatt Hill Road
Dundee, New York
Fred Bobson
41 Eastern Dr.
Ardsley , NY
Mary Colvard
24 Bobolink Ct
Deposit, NY
Elisabeth Meyer
Associate Professor
41 Elm Street
Trumansburg, NY
Michael Branigan
467 Springfield Hill Rd
Cooperstown, New York