World class climate hoaxter, Donald Trump, may see Pennsylvania as just another pretty piece of shale, his for the grabbing, but a growing number of physicians and scientists are calling on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf [D] to enact a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
In October, the archly conservative Pennsylvania Medical Society was unanimous in its resolution calling for a moratorium on new shale gas drilling permits, voicing the need to create a statewide health impact registry. Their advice grows urgent as more peer-reviewed studies are published, and the data chronicling the human harm becomes more widely available.
“The medical society’s call for a moratorium came just a day before the release of a new study by the Yale School of Public Health that found numerous carcinogens used in fracking have the potential to contaminate the air and water of nearby communities and increase the risk of childhood leukemia,” reports Don Hopey in Doctors call for state ban on drilling and fracking, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, October 31, 2016.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society has 16,000 members, and they are joined in this resolution by other professional organizations, such as Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York.
“Scientific studies have demonstrated that drilling and fracking can increase risk of cancer, respiratory conditions and migraines in communities surrounding fracking sites,” states Dr. Sandra Steingraber, PhD, biologist, author, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College in Doctors to Gov. Wolf: For the Sake of Human Health Ban Fracking, EcoWatch, November 18, 2016.
Mind The Knowledge Gap
To date, more than 900 peer reviewed studies have been conducted, and they point to serious health effects associated with living and working in proximity to frack well pads and shale gas infrastructure. They are compiled in the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking, a living, breathing online document which underscores the medical and scientific communities’ need for more data from both the shale gas drilling industry, the Pa Department of Environmental Protection and the field.
The U.S. EPA has also conducted studies on groundwater contamination but it, too, encountered major obstacles in the form of insufficient data.
In Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Much Higher Than Reported, EcoWatch, February 4, 2016, Laurel Peltier of Baltimore Fishbowl reports that “… in Pennsylvania, the reason for this discrepancy comes down to a singular issue: mismanaged record-keeping and reporting by the Department of the Environment (DEP). Based on 2,309 previously unreported fracking complaints unearthed by the non-profit Public Herald, the public can now peek into 1,275 fracking water complaints from 17 of 40 fracking counties. However, Pennsylvania’s official tally of water contamination is only 271 for all 40 counties.”
Governor Wolf often states that he wants the industry to succeed while “protecting the health of our residents and our environment.” He has promoted shale gas, despite widespread reports of water and air pollution and the growing list of health complaints. He has even gone so far as to divert $24 million in Clean Energy Funding to the development of shale gas infrastructure.
Until the impacts are fully assessed, it is difficult to imagine how any governor can assure the people of his state that the shale gas industry won’t harm them.
“No one would tell you that fossil fuels are a form of ‘alternative energy’ with a straight face,” says Sam Bernhardt, Senior Organizer, Food and Water Watch, in his November 17 OpEd in PennLIVE.
“Instead of continuing to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry though this PIPE program, Wolf should use the Alternative Energy Investment fund as it was intended to create stable, good paying jobs to build the energy, transportation and water systems of the future—starting right now.”
Throughout his term, Governor Wolf has shown nothing but love for the drilling industry. Under Wolf, Pennsylvania has become the nation’s second highest shale gas producing state. But now that the lab reports are officially streaming in, it’s time for the governor to start following doctors’ orders.
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