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Coalition to request Cuomo withdraw environmental impact statement on fracking


Dr. Benjamin Perkus of New York Residents Against Drilling, Erin Heaton Meyer of Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy, former Mayor Matthew T. Ryan and Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting spoke outside of Binghamton City Hall Monday afternoon. / Steven Howe/Staff Photo

BINGHAMTON — A coalition of organizations opposing fracking in New York met outside City Hall at 38 Hawley St. Monday afternoon to request Gov. Andrew Cuomo withdraw an environmental impact statement which they say is outdated.

The state’s final decision on fracking is meant to be based on the impact statement, a draft of which was first released in September 2009 and revised two years later.

Since that time, new state health reports and scientific research have been published which the statement doesn’t consider, said Walter Hang, who owns Ithaca-based environmental database firm Toxics Targeting, during Monday’s news conference.

“When you look at the document it’s so ancient, it’s so outdated by scientific standards that we believe it simply needs to be withdrawn,” said Hang, of Ithaca.

Former Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan and representatives from New York Residents Against Drilling and Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy attended the news conference. The coalition plans to send a letter to Cuomo requesting an updated draft environmental statement with a comprehensive health impact study.

So far, 803 people have signed the letter, according to Toxics Targeting’s website.

In 2012, Cuomo called for a health review on the impact statement before final approval. Former state health commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah resigned in April before the analysis was completed.

The state placed a moratorium on fracking since 2008 and the health department has been reviewing the process since September 2012.

Ryan said state governments have made independent health and environmental impact findings on fracking but no in-depth studies have been made to inform the regulations on the controversial natural gas extraction technique.

“Nobody has ever put together the kind of comprehensive health impact study or environmental impact study that’s needed for this industry,” he said. “New York could get something real right by doing this.”

In a reactionary joint release from pro-fracking group Unshackle Upstate and the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, both groups championed the economic development benefits of natural gas drilling.

“The Southern Tier’s residents and businesses are tired of having their economic futures put at risk by a politically-motivated process,” said Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Brian Sampson.