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Anti-Fracking Activists Applaud as NY Further Delays a Decision on Whether to Allow Fracking

More time is needed to complete a health review as pressure from activists and concerned residents mounts.

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Jill Wiener from Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy said in response to the delay:

This reprieve is a true testament to the power of public participation. Ordinary citizens from across New York raised valid concerns about the safety and economic viability of fracking for shale gas. Countless hours of research, writing and the occasional protest have not been wasted.

DOH Commissioner Shah is to be commended for identifying the need for a comprehensive study of the impacts that fracking will have on public health. We are counting on the Governor and the DEC to allow him to proceed without political pressure and to delay the issue of any permits until after a thorough independent health impact assessment is completed, reviewed, and commented on by the public.

Sandra Steingraber, biologist, health expert and founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking, in addition to a member of Concerned Health Professionals of NY said at the NY State of the State Rally to ban fracking at the capitol in Albany on January 9, 2013 where an estimated 1,500 anti-frackers demonstrated, "This movement of ours, this is our Greensboro lunch counter -- the Marcellus shale, our Stonewall Riot, this is our Seneca Falls Convention, this is our human rights movement and we will not be silent and we will not sit down. We're going to show him that there's another path and another way forward... The die is not cast. We can turn back and do something different."

Steingraber released this statement today:

We applaud Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Shah, and Commissioner Martens for not moving forward tomorrow. 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. As Commissioner Shah 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. Commissioner Shah has indicated how important it is to do this right, which means bringing the public and New York State health experts into this process.

Indeed, new information from one of the outside health reviewers, Richard Jackson, shows the need for public participation in the health review and scoping. In a presentation following his review of the state's health review, Jackson showed an alarming lack of knowledge about key issues relevant to public health and fracking, undermining the credibility of the state's secret internal review. See more here, from Concerned Health Professionals of NY. We call on New York State to release the current draft of the state's health review and open the process for public participation and comment.

Wes Gillingham the Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper said today, "Although [the DEC] can still do anything and this news doesn't mean it will delay permits, it's a huge victory. What this proves is that the people who have ridden buses, taken planes, gotten up at the crack of dawn and given their time and amazing effort to stop fracking in New York have made a huge difference."

The news that the New York State Department of Health's Review of the health impacts of fracking conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation will not be completed by the February 13th deadline proves how many questions still remain about those impacts. This decision is an opportunity for more of the scientific data to be studied and for the pressure to continue building for an independent and comprehensive health impact assessment study. It's also time for a toast to all of the people who have worked so tirelessly to protest big oil and gas infiltrating the political system.

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