Anti-Frackers Rally as Health Commissioner Asks DEC for More Time

By Matt Porter
By Dave Sherry

Protestors against hydrofracking gathered at City Hall; meanwhile, DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah asks DEC for more time on health study.

February 12, 2013 Updated Feb 13, 2013 at 2:28 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Protestors against hydraulic fracturing gathered at City Hall Tuesday, as news was released of a request by the state's Department of Health Commissioner for more time on an outstanding study.

DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah asked Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens for more time on a health impact study.

Shah wrote in the letter released Tuesday:

"The decision to permit HVHF is important, and involves complex questions about the impact of the process on public health. The time to ensure the impacts on public health are properly considered is before a state permits drilling."

Shah cited states that moved ahead with hydraulic fracturing, and only completed health studies after the fact. Shah advised against this option for New York State.

Martens responded in a statement that said the DEC would not come to a final decision until Shah made his recommendation.

Martens said in the response:

"The science, not emotion, will determine the outcome."

Earlier Tuesday, nearly 100 anti-fracking demonstrators gathered in in downtown Binghamton.

They claim sources in the governor's office have said he would make an announcement Feb. 13 on a plan to drill as many as 40 test wells in the Southern Tier.

"It hasn't been done in a transparent way, and we're calling for the governor to put out his health review," said Citizen Action's Isaac Silberman-Gorn. "Let us see the scope of it, let us have some decision in what that looks like."

It's not known if a delay from the Department of Health could push back that deadline.

Martens said in his statement that no permitting would start until the review is complete.