The Public Health is Endangered all-the-more by Oil & Gas Industry Exemptions

by S. Tom Bond on April 1, 2016

Prof. Lenore K. Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

Public health professionals seek more protections from fracking

From an Article by Michael Bradwell, Washington PA Observer-Reporter, March 30, 2016

Health care professionals want to create a statewide registry to record risks they said are associated with hydraulic fracturing. The registry would document symptoms from those living near natural gas well pads and compressor stations.

But a trade group representing Marcellus Shale exploration and production companies said the industry in Pennsylvania follows some of the most stringent environmental regulations of any fracking state.

During a brief conference call Wednesday sponsored by PennEnvironment, three speakers – a physician, a certified nurse practitioner and a registered nurse – also said they would like to see setbacks of a least a mile in radius imposed on drilling operations and associated infrastructure that are near schools, nursing homes, hospitals and daycare centers.

In addition, the group said it supported “priority policies” that include:

• Training of health professionals, including those employed by the PA state Department of Health, about the health impacts of natural gas;

• Removal of the health professional “gag rule” from PA Act 13;

• Removal of exemptions of the fracking industry from key environmental laws;

• Addressing what it calls the known public health risks posed by fracking, including banning open-air waste pits.

While PennEnvironment fracking campaign organizer Allie DiTucci noted progress has been made toward some of the goals, including the state Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to get Chapter 78 fracking regulations finished, her group has joined with numerous Pennsylvania health groups, including Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Physicians for Social Responsibility, SEIU Healthcare and Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project to pursue the goals it listed Wednesday.

Dr. Walter Tsou, former president of the American Public Health Association and former health commissioner of Philadelphia, who represented Physicians for Social Responsibility, stated that fracking “has been linked to groundwater contamination, air pollution, radioactivity in flowback water and even earthquakes.” He said nosebleeds, skin rashes, asthma and respiratory difficulties are commonly found in areas where fracking occurs.

“What we know from our work at Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Projects is that activities associated with unconventional oil and gas development predictably result in air emissions and sometimes result in water contamination,” said Dr. Lenore Resick, who represents the project. She said her group has documented 200 people who live within a kilometer of natural gas production sites complaining of certain symptoms she said are caused by airborne and waterborne contamination.

According to Resick, a public health registry for health-care professionals and affected residents is needed to report health impacts associated with fracking.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition on Wednesday blamed PennEnvironment for misleading people about health concerns from drilling with hydraulic fracturing.

“This activist organization has a long and checkered history of intentionally misleading Pennsylvanians when it comes to tightly regulated natural gas development,” said MSC spokeswoman Erica Clayton Wright. “Pennsylvania has some of the most robust environmental regulations of any oil- and gas-producing state, and that’s something that as an industry we are proud to have supported over the years.

“According to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy,” Wright continued, ‘natural gas has been a game changer with our ability to really move forward with pollution reductions that have been very hard to get our arms around for many decades.’ We agree.”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: