Pennsylvania Flying Blind re Public Health Impacts of Shale Gas Development
Five flares after fracking in Susquehanna County, PA, 2012. Massive gas flaring is legal in PA. Photo: Frank Finan
“Pennsylvania continues to fly blind regarding the public health consequences of large-scale natural gas production. ”
That’s the opener for an editorial published in the Republican Herald on October 1st. The straightforward, clear analysis in this editorial deserves praise and discussion, so we encourage you to read this short piece in its entirety and go comment online in support of it. The Repulican Herald continues in its level-headed fashion,
Without data about drilling’s consequences, lawmakers and regulators have no way of knowing whether the wide berth they have provided the industry, on matters ranging from environmental regulation, to taxation to local zoning, is the best public policy.
This year the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett killed a planned appropriation that would have provided for a long-term, independent expert study across the breadth of the Marcellus Shale gas fields, by the largest health care providers in those regions, Geisinger Health System and Guthrie Health System.
Now Sen. Joseph Scarnati, president pro tem of the Senate, plans to introduce a bill to establish a panel – comprising gubernatorial and legislative appointees – to study public health issues relative to the gas industry. The nine-member group would include physicians, scientists and, for some reason, representatives of the gas industry, which already has substantial influence over the state government…
Independence, rather than assessments through a body that is an organ of the state’s political apparatus, is the best way to ensure that the health study is comprehensive, disinterested and in the broad public interest.
Please see the editorial here, comment online, and urge the media in your region to step up to fight for public health by demanding an independent review. Strong editorials should go further, demanding a moratorium until and unless a Health Impact Assessment is done for Pennsylvania regarding life-cycle impacts of full-scale shale gas extraction, processing, waste handling, distribution and use.
Such a Health Impact Assessment, along with Cumulative Impact Studies in each of the state’s major watersheds (Delaware, Susquehanna, and Ohio River Basins) should be carried out, widely debated and discussed while a moratorium is put into effect. Here in PA, we continue to see 12 environmental violations / day of even the minimal regulations which are presently on the books. Open, plastic-lined frack waste pits, dumping toxic brine on the roads, and flaring are among the gas industry’s everyday practices which haven’t been banned in PA.
This is absurd. Not in a funny sort of absurd way, but in a deadly sort of absurd way.
Today, please write your own letter to the editor or Op-Ed piece, and contact your hometown newspaper directly to ask that they write an editorial similar to, or stronger than, this one. We can’t let Pennsylvania continue to fly blind. Nor can we afford any study of something as crucial as public health to be conducted by those whose primary concern is not protecting public health, but promoting shale gas development.
(Is writing a letter to the editor too mild for you, too tedious? Pushing your hometown paper to write their own editorial too hopeless, you think? Eager to get a ban, prefer to do direct action? Great! But if you don’t have a ban today, and if you’re not doing a direct action today, try reaching a few hundred or a few thousand people in the most efficient way possible. Impact public opinion. Because if you don’t impact public opinion, you know who is, for sure, doing all they can to grab it.)