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Community survey about views on fracking slated

By Isabel Braverman
January 22, 2014

NARROWSBURG, NY — Representatives from New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, Department of Environmental Medicine will hold an open house at the Tusten Town Hall on Saturday, February 1 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for anyone in the area to come and fill out a survey regarding their views on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the community. Dr. Judy Zelikoff, the principal investigator, said she and her team have no bias in the fracking debate, and that this survey is a service to the community to help it understand its views on fracking.

The short yet comprehensive survey is anonymous and includes questions on demographics as well as general questions about people’s thoughts on fracking and energy development. The project that Zelikoff is leading is funded by a recently approved grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). She said they wanted to come to an area that is near fracking sites but has not yet had any fracking and will not in the foreseeable future, making the Town of Tusten the perfect candidate, due New York State’s ongoing moratorium and its location adjacent to Pennsylvania, where fracking has been welcomed.

The purpose of the project is twofold. One part is to look at biological outcomes of fracking fluid, and the other is to try to determine and understand the views of residents who live near fracking sites or potential fracking sites. “We just want to assess their concerns, viewpoints, or lack of concerns. We want to find out what the people are thinking,” said Zelikoff.

Tusten is the first town to which they are going, and will help establish a baseline for future research. The team also plans to go to Bradford County, and/or Tioga County PA, where there is a lot of active fracking and possibly to Susquehanna County. Mary Beth Egan and Maureen Sisco, the program coordinators, have already been to the Town of Tusten and presented at a recent town meeting and spoken to numerous people and made contacts to help reach a lot of people the community.

Zelikoff said that any university that is going to do this kind of survey must have an Institutional Review Board (IRB) agreement, and their survey is IRB approved. She, Egan and Sisco will all be at the open house in Narrowsburg to talk to people and hand out information. People from the area, not just Town of Tusten, can come take the survey. There also will be refreshments and all participants will receive a $2 bill.