After five years of “health impact analysis” on the effects of fracking, the New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) has still offered no timeline for completion of the study.  The NYSDOH study was commissioned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, an agency controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The NYSDOH issued a timetable for the study in August, which revealed that representatives were traveling to states with active fracking operations to observe and discuss public health concerns.  The NYSDOH refused on Wednesday to give a firm date for completion of the study, commenting that “the public health review will continue until [the leader of the study] concludes the review is fully informed, comprehensive and best serves the health and safety interests of the citizens of New York.”  Asked whether there was anything new on the study, Governor Cuomo simply commented “nothing new.”  Critics of the study have suggested that Cuomo is strategically delaying making any decision on fracking because divisiveness on the issue could hurt his chances of reelection next year.

Meanwhile, local governments in New York have taken matters into their own hands and passed local bans on fracking.  Dryden, one such New York town that sits on the prized Marcellus Shale formation, passed a zoning ordinance in August of 2011 that effectively banned local fracking.  That ban is currently the subject of an appeal to the Court of Appeals—New York’s highest state court—led by plaintiff Norse Energy Corp. USA.  The lower courts have thus far upheld Dryden’s ban as a proper zoning restriction.  A ruling from the Court of Appeals is not expected until next year, but could drastically change the playing field for New York’s fracking future.

Coverage:

Court Case on Fracking Ban in Dryden NY May Have Wide Implications

The Update on Fracking is There is No Update