Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental commissioner is rejecting calls by environmentalists for an independent health impact study on hydrofracking. But Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens, says the state’s health commissioner has agreed to conduct a review.
“Government is the public’s independent reviewer,” Martens said in a statement explaining his decision. “To suggest private interests or academic experts bring more independence to the process than government is exactly wrong. Many experts in this field have an opinion – pro or con- which could influence the process. Nor could one ever be sure that there weren’t potential conflicts of interest with outside consultants if they were to actually direct the outcome.”
Commissioner Martens says he’s concerned about lawsuits if fracking begins, and wants to have the most thorough review possible to try to avoid “protracted litigation.”
The statement comes as Cuomo says he’s not pushing his environmental agency to make a final decision on fracking any time soon.
“I didn’t want an artificial deadline,” says Cuomo, who says he told the Department of Environmental Conservation, “when you have completed an intelligent, thorough process, then you should announce your decision.”
Martens says any decision on hydrofracking in New York will be delayed until after the health department completes its study. He says if there is a public health concern that cannot be addressed, then fracking will not proceed.