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Doctors Seek Probe of Health Impacts of Hydraulic Rock Fracturing Under Proposed Fracking Rules



More than 250 doctors and health care professionals, along with environmental advocate groups such as the Catskill Mountainkeeper, requested New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to demand that the state take responsibility for adverse health impacts of hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a process used for natural gas drilling. The newly proposed fracking rules are particularly problematic and troublesome to this medical and environmental community, so much so that these health professionals wrote Governor Cuomo to prevail upon him to take immediate curative action.

Newly Released Fracking Rules Have Been Rolled out in New York State

The recently proposed problematic fracking rules were released by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation on Sept. 28, 2011. These new regulations are premised upon suggestions that the Department of Environmental Conservation first issued last summer in its voluminous and exhaustive review of the extraction process. In fact, that review comprised no less than 1,000 pages. The New York environmental study addressed the potential adverse risks of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The study explored topics diverse in breadth and range, such as impacts on the creation of jobs and employment, production of additional revenue, trickle effects in upstate communities, road damage, and harm to wildlife.

Medical and Environmental Advocates Fear Public Health Concerns Have Been Overlooked

Yet, the medical community, comprised of some concerned doctors, medical associations, and environmental advocates, believes that the adverse impacts on public health have still been ignored and overlooked. These medical and environmental advocates want the state of New York to now undertake a thorough study of possible human health risks for those exposed to toxins and chemicals used during the gas exploration and production process.

These concerned groups point to reported cases of health deterioration for residents who live near gas wells and waste pits in other states. Health risks such as breathing challenges and asthma have surfaced as just some of the medical complaints of impacted residents. Air and water pollution and soil contamination add to the adverse public health impacts, according to these anti-fracking and anti-drilling advocates.

Adverse Health Impacts vs. Big Dollars for Energy Companies

Big dollars are at stake in this dispute over hydraulic fracturing and its potential adverse health impacts. Anxious and eager energy companies desire to immediately use the new fracking rules to start drilling for natural gas in New York in the Marcellus Shale region. The oil and gas interests and industry groups point to safeguards that they believe will prevent any of the raised public health issues. These energy interests highlight regulations and permit conditions as just some of those available safeguards that prevent human health and environmental harms.