With a Nov. 29 deadline quickly approaching, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has reportedly hired experts from three universities to conduct a health impact analysis of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in the state.

According to media reports, experts from George Washington University (GW), UCLA and the Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH) have been hired to complete the analysis, which Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens had asked the DOH to conduct in September (see Shale Daily, Sept. 24).

The Associated Press cited an anonymous DOH official who said the experts hired to conduct the analysis are John Adgate, chairman of the Environmental and Occupational Health Department at CSPH; Lynn Goldman, dean of GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services; and Richard Jackson, chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

CSPH is collaborative effort of the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado.

Jim Smith, spokesman for the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA), told NGI’s Shale Daily that the group was taking a cautious approach to the news.

“We haven’t made any judgments on the folks that the DEC has selected,” Smith said Friday. “But we will be watching for signs of impartiality, activism…those types of things. This has to be based on real science, not the pseudo-science advanced by the most radical of opponents.

“We have to have progress here, and we think it has to be soon. It has been almost four years and four months since the moratorium has been in place. That’s an unprecedented amount of time to review a set of permit guidelines. It’s time to wrap it up. New York is losing opportunity every single day.”

Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY), a group opposed to fracking, condemned the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“While it is welcome news that three highly regarded professionals have agreed to review the DEC’s study on the public health impacts of fracking, the administration’s intentionally obtuse approach to this entire process is unacceptable,” said Katherine Nadeau, EANY program director for water and natural resources. “From a governor who promised transparency, this is anything but.”

Cuomo had been expected to issue final recommendations on whether the state would allow high-volume drilling to restart after the DEC had completed its public review, which has been ongoing for more than a year (see Shale Daily, Dec. 1, 2011; Sept. 29, 2011; Sept. 8, 2011). The last of four public hearings on the proposed rules was held Nov. 30. Under state law, DEC has one year after the last hearing to finalize the rules; a 90-day extension also may be filed.