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It has recently been discovered that the process of hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”) would not create a threat to public health as long as the proper safety measures were taken.  The February 2012 preliminary assessment from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) stated, “Significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF,” otherwise known as high volume hydraulic fracturing.

Natural gas drilling has the potential of creating an enormous domestic energy supply, yielding approximately $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.  Although environmentalists are still opposed to fracking, Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, predicts New York will ultimately approve this process.

Gill stated, “We expect the administration will put an end to the continued stops and starts and allow our members, as well as Southern Tier landowners and businesses, to begin reaping the considerable benefits that expanded natural gas development will provide.”

This document was made public as Governor Cuomo was considering whether or not to lift the 4-year freeze on fracking, which was originally implemented to assess the effects.  The New York Department of Environmental Conservation believes that the report will not represent the state’s final decision, as it is over one year old.  Spokeswoman Emily DeSantis was quoted saying, “The document is nearly a year old and does not reflect final DEC policy.  The final [supplemental generic environmental impact statement] will reflect the review currently under way by DOH and its outside experts.  Once complete, DOH’s review will be shared as part of the overall…process.”

Despite the age of the document, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York requested that Governor Cuomo and his administration lift the freeze since other states have successfully displayed that fracking can be conducted in a safe manner, one that protects public health as well as the environment.

The health department document recommends certain safety precautions.  For example, the water that flows out of the wells following the drilling process should be treated as if it were medical waste, which requires strict guidelines for disposal.

With so many conflicting views, making a final decision on hydraulic fracturing will be a complicated process.  Hopefully a verdict will be reached in 2013.

Sarah Battaglia
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Sarah can be found on LinkedIn and Google+.

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