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Fracking likely to be a topic at budget hearing

Karen Dewitt
Anti-fracking protesters attend an environmental budget hearing in late January.

The state’s health commissioner is scheduled to testify before the legislative fiscal committees Monday morning, and he’s sure to be asked about a long delayed health study on hydrofracking.

Dr. Nirav Shah, who was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the state’s health commissioner, is expected to be asked by state lawmakers about a study he’s conducting on the potential health effects of natural gas drilling. The review has been going on for a year and a half now, and until it’s completed, hydrofracking is on hold in New York.

Anti-fracking activists also plan to attend the hearing. John Armstrong of Frack Action says he wants to know more about what Shah is studying.

“I would hope the legislative members would question him about what he is studying,” said Armstrong. “To ensure that there is going to be public participation.”

Armstrong says he’d like to see the health study conducted in a more transparent manner.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.