Thursday, October 17, 2019

40+ Groups, 200 Citizens Call On 2 Republican Reps. O’Neal, Ortitay To Investigate Cancers, Call For A Halt To Industry-Friendly Bills

On October 17, the Better Path Coalition delivered letters to Rep. Timothy O’Neal (R-Washington) and Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington) calling on them to take decisive action on the alarming number of rare cancers occurring in children in four counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 
The letters said that pro-industry bills moving through the legislature must be halted if there is even a chance natural gas fracking is causing the cancers.
The first letter, signed by 40 organizations and 200 concerned citizens, was delivered to Representatives O’Neal and Ortitay who attended a state Department of Health public meeting at the Canon-McMillan High School in Washington County on October 7. 
Both represent areas that have seen a spike in rare childhood cancers and have been involved in securing funds for a study that would look at genetic factors.
At the October 7th meeting, Rep. O’Neal acknowledged that fracking could be causing the cancers and should be investigated along with other possible causes.
Both Reps. O’Neal and Ortitay are co-sponsors of some of the industry-friendly Energize PA bills which provide subsidies and other incentives for the use of natural gas.
Rep. O’Neal is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1107 which would transfer permitting authority from the Department of Environmental Protection to a new Pennsylvania permitting board.
In its letter to Reps. O’Neal and Ortitay, the signers recommended next steps in the investigation of fracking’s role in the cancer crisis that include an investigation focused on environmental factors and opportunities for affected residents and concerned citizens to be heard.
The Coalition sent a second letter to all legislators apprising them of Rep. O’Neal’s call for an investigation and recommending they support the next steps outlined in the letter to Reps. O’Neal and Ortitay.
Both letters call for the halt on more pro-industry legislation.
“When Republican Representative Tim O’Neal, from frack country demands that fracking be investigated because it may be causing a cancer crisis, we have reached a watershed moment. Governor Wolf and our representatives in the Capitol need to put the health and welfare of Pennsylvania residents ahead of a murderous industry,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning, Marcellus Outreach Butler, one of the co-founders of the Better Path Coalition.
“The potential link between fracking and the rare cancers being diagnosed in children has been known since at least 2016, weeks after Luke Blanock’s death, when a groundbreaking Yale study identified 55 carcinogenic compounds linked to fracking,” said Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, another Better Path Coalition co-founder.  “That was almost exactly 3 years ago, or 12431 Environmental Health and Safety violations ago. Imagine how many children might have been spared if our legislature had treated their health and safety with the same urgency they treated the industry’s every whim.” 
Click Here for a copy of the letter to Reps. O’Neal and Ortitay.  Click Here for a copy of the letter to all House and Senate members.
For more information, visit the Better Path Coalition website.
[Posted: October 17, 2019]

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