The New York Times announced on December 17, 2014 that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks. Governor Cuomo’s announcement relied on his Department of Health’s public health review of fracking, which was also released on December 17.
The Health Department report is entitled “A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development.” A cover letter accompanying the report authored by the New York Commissioner of Health stated that:
The overall weight of the evidence from the accumulative body of information contained in this Public Health Review, demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of health outcomes that may be associated with [fracking], the likelihood of the occurrence of the adverse health outcomes, and the effectiveness of some of the mitigation measures in reducing or preventing environmental impacts which could adversely affect public health.
Until the science provides sufficient information to determine the level of risk to public health from [fracking] . . . and whether the risks can be adequately managed, [the Health Department] recommends that [fracking] should not proceed in New York.
The report summarized some of its concerns as:
- Air impacts that could affect respiratory health due to increased levels of particulate matter, diesel exhaust, or volatile organic chemicals.
- Climate change impacts due to methane and other volatile organic chemical releases to the atmosphere.
- Drinking water impacts from underground migration of methane and/or fracking chemicals associated with faulty well construction.
- Surface spills potentially resulting in soil and water contamination.
- Surface-water contamination resulting from inadequate wastewater treatment.
- Earthquakes induced during fracturing.
- Community impacts associated with boom-town economic effects such as increased vehicle traffic, road damage, noise, odor complaints, increased demand for housing and medical care, and stress.
This article was authored by Robert G. McLusky, Jackson Kelly PLLC. For more information on the author, click here.