New York State’s Department of Health (DOH) Acting Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, has recommended that hydraulic fracturing be banned.  According to a press release issued today, the DOH has determined that significant questions and risks to public health from fracking are unanswered making it “reckless” to allow fracking in New York State.

According to Dr. Zucker, “it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done.”  One motivating factor in Zucker’s decision was that he would not let his family live in a community with fracking so he could not recommend that anyone else’s family live in such a community either.

. . . it would be reckless to proceed [with fracking] in New York until more authoritative research is done.

In September 2012, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens requested Dr. Zucker’s predecessor to initiate a Public Health Review of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF).  Dr. Zucker completed that Review and published it this month.  Click here to access the Review.

According to the Executive Summary of the Review: “it is apparent that the science surrounding HVHF activity is limited, only just beginning to emerge, and largely suggests only hypotheses about potential public health impacts that need further evaluation. That is, many of the published reports investigating both environmental impacts that could result in human exposures and health implications of HVHF activities are preliminary or exploratory in nature. However, the existing studies also raise substantial questions about whether the risks of HVHF activities are sufficiently understood so that they can be adequately managed.”

Martens said that he “will issue a legally binding findings statement” that will prohibit fracking in New York State early in 2015.