Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration – led by a potential 2016 Democratic Party nominee for president - has announced it won’t achieve the late-Feb. deadline it set on whether or not it would green light shale gas drilling, known by most as “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing).
These documents reveal that Cuomo’s chief-of-staff, Larry Schwartz, has thousands of dollars in stock portfolio investments in oil and gas corporations with a financial stake in fracking proceeding in New York, a possible violation of the state’s conflict-of-interest law and potentially a form of insider trading. The documents also detailed that lobbyists from these very same corporations have also had VIP meetings with Cuomo’s top-level aides in the past several months, granted prime access to the Administration to influence-peddle in the run-up to the looming fracking decision.
Yesterday, citing the necessity to “let the science determine the outcome,” NY Department of Health Commisioner (DOH) Nirav Shah wrote that the DOH ”will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues” in a letter to NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner, Joe Martens.
Shah closed his letter by stating, “Whatever the ultimate decision on [fracking] going ahead, New Yorkers can be assured that it will be pursuant to a rigorous review that takes the time to examine the relevant health issues.”
Martens offered a brief response, concurring with Shah and writing that ”the science, not emotion, will determine the outcome.”
Front-line fracktivists see the Administration’s reprieve as a positive development – at least for now.
“Commissioner Shah is correct that the state needs to take the time to do a comprehensive study of the health effects of fracking to protect the public health,” said Sandra Steingraber, previously interviewed on DeSmogBlog in late-2011 about her latest book, “Raising Elijah.”
“As he notes, no comprehensive studies have been done to date and New York must do so before making a decision about fracking. We are confident that such a review will show that the costs of fracking in terms of public health are unacceptable.”
A recent webinar hosted by one of the outside peer reviewers of the delayed DOH study, though, reveals that the water here is a bit muddier than it appears on the surface.
Concerned Health Professionals of NY: DOH Review Fatally Flawed