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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

Lynn Thor
632 Tunnel Rd.
Tunnel, NY
Stuart Greenfield
60 Johnson Road
Stone Ridge, NY
russell honicker
55 Beaver ST
Cooperstown, NY
murray bell
108 county highway 10
morris, new york
Barbara L Heller
40 High Street
Afton, NY
Richard Levine
185 Prospect Park SW
Brooklyn, NY
Monty Berman
Adjunct Lecturer, Psychology
120 Rachel Carson Way Ithaca, NY 14850
Ithaca, NY
Mina Takahashi
Holler Farm
Oxford, New York
Rebecca Casstevens
Financial Data Management Consultant
22 Winding Way
Binghamton, NY
Wanda Cawein
4516 County Highway 6
Margaretville, New York
Gordon Smith
265 Merrill Creek Rd,
Marathon, NY
Carol Piciullo
149 Co Hwy 12
Laurens, NY
Mary Beth OConnor
119 Middaugh Road
Brooktondale, NY
Elizabeth Dyck
1124 County rd 38
Bainbridge, NY
cenie cafarelli
192greenvale dr
Rochester, NY
Bruce MacInnes
Senior Instructor
739 Oquaga Lake Road
Deposit, NY
Dave Bogart
Company Director
11 Spring St
Gilbertsville, New York
David Wallach
1959 Hawleyton Road
Town of Binghamton, NY
natasha williams
22 corriedale lane
Cottekill, NY
Daina Leimanis
10 Stone Cut Off Road
Wendell, MA
Jennifer Johnson
Burial Coordinator
101 columbia st. apt. 113
Corning, NY
Elaine Mansfield
4464 Picnic Area Rd
Burdett, NY
Nelson DuBois
137 Palmer Rd.
Otego, NY
Leland Griffin, Jr.
2386 Mecklenburg Road
Trumansburg, New York
Dr Reverend Ellen Sokolow
280 Case Hill Road
Treadwell, New York
Denise Corcoran
1959 Hawleyton Road
Town of Binghamton, NY
Sonja Simpson
5142 E. Bluff Dr.
PennYan, NY
Nicholas Cohen
Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology and of Psychiatry
211 Highland Parkway
Rochester, NY
Carol J. Painter
141 Westhaven Rd.
Ithaca, NY, 14850
John and Sue Gregoire
Field Ornithologists
5373 Fitzgerald Road
Burdett, New York
Jack Tessier
41 Clinton St.
Delhi, NY
Aron Berlinger
1042 palmer Hill rd.
Walton, NY
Leanne Avery
4 Leonard Lane
Binghamton, NY
Roland Micklem
1662 Lopez Ln. Apt. E110
Savannah , NY 13146
Carolyn Fellman
15 Park St.
Moravia, NY
Susan&Michael Stinson
Great Lakes Committe member
126 Hampshire Dr
Rochester, NY - New York
katharine dawson
1008 gospel hill road
Guilford, New York
Gary Smith
Executive Director
c/o St. Mary's Church, 59 N. Main St.
Cortland, New York
Joan Lawrence
325 Warren Place
Ithaca, New York
Robert Howarth
4124 Reynolds Road
Trumansburg, NY
elizabeth salon
family nurse practitioner
251 culver rd
ithaca, ny
Victoria Xlander
3765 Brady Hill Road
Binghamton, New York
Diana Drucker
1187 East Shore Drive
Ithaca, New York
Susan Annette Walker
56 Chambers Road
Dundee, New York
David H. Bullard
Clark Rd
Gansevoort, New York
Geoffrey Wittig
10055 McNinch Road
Dansville, NY
Douglas Kinney
P.O. Box 315
Otego, NY
Susanne Liari
3991 Rt. 228
Alpine, NY