Governor Andrew Cuomo says he supports his administration’s internal health review on hydrofracking in New York, and he says it could even hasten the gas drilling process in the state, should fracking ultimately be approved.
Cuomo says he supports his environmental commissioner’s decision not to launch an independent health study, and to instead have the administration’s health department review new health assessment data compiled by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Cuomo says he agrees with DEC Commissioner Joe Martens that the government agencies are the most “objective” reviewers.
“Government is the independent, objective reviewer,” said Cuomo, who says “it makes no sense” to go to a private firm that may have an opinion or an economic interest.
And Cuomo says the internal health review could result in hastening an approval of fracking, because it will cut down on the time spent fighting lawsuits that are expected to be filed once the final environmental impact report is released.
“You can actually be expediting the process,” said Cuomo, who said months or years of protracted litigation could be avoided.
Environmental groups disagree with the decision to conduct an internal health review, saying it could be biased. One group, Environmental Advocates, has filed a freedom of information law request asking to see the details of the health study, which have not been publicly disclosed.
Cuomo says the “facts and science” of the gas drilling process are still being studied, and he could not say how long the health review will take. The governor would not rule out fracking in New York being delayed beyond the end of this year.
“It’s done when it’s done,” Cuomo said.
But Cuomo says his health department will provide an estimate soon for a time table on how long the health review might take.