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Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

A.10234 (Sweeney)

Support

SUBJECT:

Health Impact Assessment

 

DATE:

June 4, 2012

 

The Business Council of New York State opposes A.10234 as the legislation is unjustified. The stated purpose of the legislation is to study all potential public health impacts posed by the extraction of natural gas using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.  The Business Council supports the collection of comprehensive data and facts related to high volume hydraulic fracturing. Most importantly, any review of drilling should focus on risk assessment. There have been comprehensive efforts through the adoption of best practices that have resulted in reduction of environmental risks which have also resulted in reduced health and safety risks. Blanket studies about community health impact assessment traditionally have failed to provide solid answers.

Throughout the Country there are numerous studies that have been either completed or are ongoing regarding shale gas extraction. Some studies have been limited in scope, others have collected data with limited scientific value. The proposed study will not provide a fair and balanced review of the positive and negative public health impacts of extraction of natural gas using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the health impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing. The studies can quickly become mired in controversy. That’s what happened to one by the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health for the 3,200-acre community of Battlement Mesa, Colorado.

County officials who commissioned the study halted it before it was final, saying it was hopelessly bogged down. The study included a provision stating the following:

(B)ecause the domestic natural gas resource is part of the national policy to increase domestic energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a high level discussion of the health implications of this policy needs to take place. While municipal, county and state governments have begun to respond to citizen concerns, a national discussion of the benefits and risks associated with this policy is due. As outlined in this HIA, in addition to potential local economic benefits of energy development, there are potential local negative impacts to the physical and social health of the community. It will be important to understand public health implications in the context of national priorities for domestic energy production.

The Business Council of New York State agrees that health studies, if they are needed, should occur at a National level. We support studies that will improve our scientific understanding of hydraulic fracturing, but do not support this legislation as it is unwarranted in New York. The rdSGEIS and proposed regulations thoroughly review potential adverse health impacts and put requirements in place to prevent them.