Opinion

''N.Y. has to really study gas drilling impact''

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"When Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would let science and health concerns drive his decision about issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing natural gas wells, we were encouraged. When we read the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, that encouragement evaporated.

We are part of a group of physicians and scientists with expertise in public health, engineering and environmental risk assessment and a keen interest in hydrofracking. We have come together as Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy (http://www.psehealthyenergy.org). From the many problems with the environmental impact statement -- both with what it contains, and what is left out -- there clearly is need for far greater study before the state begins issuing permits that can affect the long-term health and well-being of New Yorkers.

We are frankly stunned by the absence of any serious health impact assessment in the SGEIS. The state rejected a call by the federal Environmental Protection Agency that the Health Department be named a co-lead agency to ensure that human health implications of hydrofracking get their proper attention. It is not encouraging that Health Department officials told members of a special state advisory committee they had not performed specific public health impact analyses, and did not plan to do so until hydrofracking began."

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