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Ohio Utica Shale

Eco-groups want details on New York health impact study

By Bob Downing Published: December 18, 2012

From the Associated Press:

By MARY ESCH

A coalition of environmental groups called on New York state officials today to release details of a health impact study for shale gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Representatives of a dozen prominent organizations signed a letter to Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens. They asked them to make public the health impact study being evaluated by a scientific panel, and called for public hearings and a 60-day public comment period on the health study.

A DEC spokeswoman referred questions to the health department, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

DEC did the health study as part of an environmental impact review of shale gas development which started in July 2008 and is expected to be completed within a few months.

Martens announced in September that he was rejecting demands from health and environmental groups to commission a comprehensive health impact study by university experts on shale gas development. Such a study would likely scrutinize the potential for myriad health impacts, from diesel exhaust air pollution to sexually transmitted diseases spread by out-of-state well site workers.

Instead, Martens said he had asked Shah to review the health impacts identified by DEC in its environmental study and commission a panel of nationally recognized experts to weigh in as well.

No details of DEC’s health impact assessment have been made public. It was not included in the 1,500-page draft environmental impact study released in September 2011. That document and an earlier version released in 2009 generated more than 80,000 public comments.

"To be valid and meaningful, it is absolutely critical that the health review process provide a genuine opportunity for input by local, county and New York State medical and public health professionals," the letter from the environmental coalition says.

With the health impact review still pending, DEC released revised drilling regulations for public comment on Dec. 12 and is taking comments until Jan. 11. The environmental groups also criticized that decision, saying the health review should come first.

Groups signing the letter include Catskill Mountainkeeper, Common Cause, Environmental Advocates, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Earthjustice and Adirondack Mountain Club, among others.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.