POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The state Assembly this week passed legislation co-sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R, C- Goldens Bridge) that calls for a health-impact assessment for any hydraulic fracturing (also known as “hydrofracking”) conducted in New York state.
The bill, which now moves to the state Senate, directs the State University of New York system to conduct a comprehensive impact assessment of the public health effects that could be caused by the extraction of natural gas using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
Castelli represents the 89th Assembly District, which includes Pound Ridge, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Castle, New Castle, Harrison and parts of White Plains.
He said that while proposed hydrofracking projects currently focus on upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains region, interest in the issue remains high among his constituents in northern Westchester, who remain concerned about the process’s possible impact on the environment and health throughout the entire state.
“While there have been a plethora of questions as a result of the SGEIS (supplemental generic environment impact study), one of the things that has gone unnoticed has been the need for a health-impact study as it results to hydrofracking,” Castelli said. “A health-impact assessment is, in the very sense of the word, the easiest, the simplest, the earliest, and the very first thing we should have done before considering to allow this process. Without this health-impact study, nothing can and should move forward in this state as it relates to fracking.”
Castelli said he and his colleagues have written a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation that highlights deficiencies in the SGEIS done by the DEC. One of the deficiencies, the assemblyman said, that the lawmakers believed necessitated sending the document back to the drawing board was the absence of a health-impact assessment.