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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

Barbara Vartanian
125 South Chenango St. Ext.
Greene, NY
Melissa Ouimette
1252 Colesville Road
Binghamton, New York
Christopher Sammond
General Secretary
4770 Kinney Gulf Road
Cortland, NY
Maureen Dill
3221 State Hwy 51
Morris, NY
Kristin Lovelace-Ross
56 Waterburg Road
Trumansburg, New York
Mary Craig
Small Business Owner
PO Box 299
Masonville, NY
Joseph Norton
5506 Rte. 96A
Romulus, NY
Ronald Alexander
58 s Knoll dr
Dryden, NY
Frank Brockman
3 Congress St.
Trumansburg, New York
Christine parshall
PO Box 510
Morris, NY
Albert Kopec
1260 Shannon Corners Road
Dundee, New York
John Fay
1 Edgewood Road
Binghamton, NY
Maria Luisa Tasayco
Emerita Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry from CCNY and The Graduate Center of CUNY
116 Pinehurst Ave H43
New York, NY
Joan Koster
7604 NY RT 79
Whitney Point, New York
Sheila Long
701 New York Rte 79
Windsor, New York
Barbara Coffman
1874 dombroski Rd.
dundee, ny
Renee Bevilacqua
1 Ely park Blvd. Apartment Z3
Binghamton, NY
Amy Shapiro
123 Leroy St.
Binghamton, NY
Robyn Robinson
215 North Cayuga Street Suite 333
Ithaca, NY
Harold Koster
7604 NY RT 79
Jacqueline Thompson
308 Utica Street
Ithaca, NY
John Fletcher
334 Glenmary Drive
Owego, NY
Vice Chair
PO BOX 449
Susan Lisk
P.O.Box 275 2625 Man Street
Maine, New York
Steven Titus
77 Woolsey Street
Huntington, NY
Andrea Rankin
437 McLean Rd.
Cortland, NY
Nancy Reynolds
405 Hattie Clark Road
Greene, NY
Carole Daugherty
106 Pleasant Valley Rd.
Groton, New York
Marty Dodge
Professor of Conservation FLCC (Retired)
6105 Jones Road
Canandaigua, NY
The Rev. Nancy Lane
Rev. Mother
186 Bower Rd
Elmira, NY
Karen Peterson
116 Greenridge Dr.
Horseheads, NY
Charles Bosco
552 Pegg Road
Morris, NEW YORK
freda murray
21 exchange st 6e
binghamton, new york
grant van sant
5858 state route 41
Homer, New York
Jason Elias
10 Rockledge Drive
Croton on Hudson, NY
Anne F. and Karl J. Kriz
5886 Allen-Padgham Road
Farmington, New York
Gretchen Herrmann
433 Bostwick Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Peter Moffa
102 Orchard Rd.
Skaneateles, N.Y.
Kathie Arnold
Co-owner & general manager
3175 State Route 13
Truxton, NY
Evelyn Asher
2209 Elton Road
Bloomfield, NY
Betsy Wohl
958 Tallow Hill Road
Spencer, NY
Lucy Loewenstein
188 Village Dr
Endwell, NY
Gail Musante
199 Front St.
Deposit, NY
Edward Priem
276 Van Yahres Rd
Cooperstown, NY
Douglas Knipple
109 Maxwell Ave
Geneva, New York
Robert Sparks
413 S. Albany St
Ithaca, NY
Marcia Jacobson
925 Mitchell St., #3
Ithaca, NY
Robert O'Brien
2047 Ellis Hollow Road
Ithaca, NY
Albert Tricomi
2200 Hemlock Ln
Vestal, NY
Samuel Cooper
110 Crestmont Rd.
Binghamton, New York