Shah: No Decision On Hydrofracking Yet
New York's health commissioner is still declining to speculate when his agency will finish a review of the health effects of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, meaning the state appears no closer to allowing the controversial drilling process.
Dr. Nirav Shah told legislators in Albany on Monday that a conclusion is "not in the near future, where I can predict it."
“I don’t see myself as delaying the study, I see myself as conducting the study, the review, in real time,” Shah said.
He says the review involves many human health studies from around the country, including several published last year, evolving drilling technology and the effort to determine its likely effect in New York's Marcellus Shale formation.
"I’ve looked at stuff that came out in the LA Times, the primary studies that came out of Colorado looking at human health, I’ve looked at the study from the University of Mississippi Group. We’re throwing as wide a net as possible," Shah said.
The review has involved up to two dozen staff over two years, already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is meant to answer the health questions asked by the state's conservation commissioner, who has authority to regulate drilling.
Shah says Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made no suggestions about the outcome.
“He’s let me, let science lead the way," Shah said. "He has not, in any form, impacted, and when I said I needed more time, he’s like, 'OK , you can have more time.'”
Shah says he has no intentions of rushing the process.
“My goal is to protect the health of New Yorkers," Shah said. "I am not going to let anything come in the way of that. And to the extent that that is my job, I’ve been hired by the governor for that one goal alone, I’m not going to rush to any decisions that might jeopardize that.”
New York has had a de facto moratorium on fracking for more than five years.