Thursday, May 18, 2023

Environmental Groups Launched Effort May 4 Asking For Update On Studies Of Health Impacts Of Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities, So Far No Response

On May 18, the
Physicians For Social Responsibility PA, Environmental Health Project, Center for Coalfield Justice, FracTracker Alliance and the Mountain Watershed Association Youghiogheny Riverkeeper said they have not yet heard from the state Department of Health or the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health on the status of studies of the health impacts of oil and gas industrial facilities.

The studies cover the entirety of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Region, including Allegheny County, Armstrong County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Greene County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

On May 4, the groups launched a petition calling on the state Department of Health and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to provide an update and fulfill their obligations to explain the study process, report the results of the studies to the public if they are available, and take questions from community members. More than 265 people have so far signed the petition.

“It is reasonable for community residents and pediatricians like me to be concerned that fracking may be to blame for the spike in rare childhood cancers and other health impacts in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Ned Ketyer, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania. “Dozens of scientific and medical studies support those concerns. Community members and their health providers are demanding answers. Unfortunately, the decision by the PA DOH and the University of Pittsburgh to continue their lack of transparency effectively silences those important voices and keeps the community in the dark.”

Over three years ago, a group of parents whose children have been affected by rare cancers, including Ewing sarcoma, asked the PA DOH to investigate childhood cancers being diagnosed at disproportionately high rates in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where shale gas drilling, fracking, and infrastructure buildout have occurred. 

In 2019, Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf’s administration allocated $3 million for studies to explore the potential health effects of the shale gas industry, taking action after months of impassioned pleas by the families of childhood cancer patients who live in the most heavily drilled region of the state. 

Those three studies, called the PA Health and Environment Studies, have been underway for two years.

In early October 2022, the PA DOH and the University of Pittsburgh publicly backed out of a public forum to discuss the progress and process of the studies. Neither the agency or the university have communicated with the public since.

“Parents deserve to hear from these institutions,” said Heaven Sensky, Organizing Director at the Center for Coalfield Justice. “These agencies and research institutions are not even doing the bare minimum to provide information to grieving parents and concerned community members. We all need to work together to ensure our children grow up free from preventable disease. More young people are being diagnosed with rare cancers in the studied communities, all the while the state continues to grant permits for pollution-emitting fossil fuel projects. It is urgent that the Department issue an update as soon as possible.”

Lois Bower-Bjornson, impacted resident of Washington County and Southwestern Pennsylvania Field Organizer with Clean Air Council, said, “As a mother of four living surrounded by fracking with children who experience health impacts, this issue is highly concerning and detrimental to our children’s health and our community. Since the onset of fracking, and due to the concerns that I am seeing in my community and others, I am hosting Frackland Tours. These tours give people firsthand accounts of what it’s like to live and grow up in the shale fields of Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

“There is no doubt that residents living in proximity to shale gas development face a host of potential health issues,” said Makenzie White, Public Health Manager at the Environmental Health Project. “Studies show that shale gas operations raise the risk of respiratory illnesses like asthma, heart disease and heart attacks, birth defects and preterm deliveries, mental health problems, and cancer. It’s essential that we give impacted residents the tools they need to make informed decisions about their family’s health.”

Click Here to sign on to the petition and for more information.

Visit the University of Pittsburgh’s PA Health And Environment Study webpage for available information on these studies.

Related Articles - University Of Pittsburgh Study:

-- Pitt School Of Public Health, PA Dept Of Health Abruptly Pull Out Of Oct. 5 Public Meeting They Helped Convene On Studies Looking At Links Between Natural Gas Development And Childhood Cancer Rates  [PaEN] 

-- Washington County Community Meeting Updates Residents On PA Health & Environment Studies, Discusses Health Impacts Of Shale Gas Development  [PaEN] 

-- University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health Recruiting Families In Southwest PA For Study Of Childhood Cancer, One Of 3 Studies Of Potential Health Impacts Linked To Shale Natural Gas Development  [PaEN] 

-- Dept. Of Health Awards $2.5 Million Contract To University of Pittsburgh To Research Health Effects Of Hydraulic Fracturing In PA   [PaEN] 

Related Articles - Latest Health Impacts:

-- New State Health Plan Identifies Health Issues Related To Natural Resource Extraction, Climate Change In Top 5 Threats To Health Outcomes; No Update On University Of Pittsburgh Oil & Gas Health Impacts Study   [PaEN]

-- DEP: Widespread Presence Of PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Fresh Water May Have Led To ‘Inadvertently’ Using Contaminated Water For Fracking Gas Wells In Washington County  [PaEN]

-- DEP Environmental Justice: State Dept. of Health, CDC Launch Environmental Public Health Tracking Program  [PaEN]

-- Inside Climate News: Gov. Shapiro Provides Fresh Support To Key Changes Recommended In 2020 Grand Jury Report To Tighten Regulation Of The Natural Gas Drilling Industry To Better Protect Public Health, Environment  [PaEN]

-- House Bill Would Expand Safety Zones Around Oil/Gas Wells, Infrastructure To Reduce Adverse Health, Environmental Impacts As Recommended By AG Shapiro’s Grand Jury Report  [PaEN]

-- New University Of Chicago Medical Study Connects Natural Gas Development In PA To Real, Serious Human Health Outcomes And Should Be A Call To Action For Policy Makers - By Alison Caldwell, PhD,  University of Chicago News  [PaEN] 

-- Ohio Research Confirms Health, Environmental Hazards In Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater Dumped On Roads, Just Like In PA  [PaEN]

-- Eyes On Shell Reports Shell Petrochemical Plant Fenceline Monitors Found Benzene Emissions Above Toxic Substances Limits; No Timeline For Restarting Plant; DEP Issued Another NOV For Air Violations  [PaEN] 

Impacts On Families - Oil & Gas Facilities

-- Observer-Reporter: Ongoing Water Donation Drive Helping Dozens Of Greene County Families Who Haven’t Had Clean Drinking Water Since June Following Alleged ‘Frack-Out’ At Natural Gas Well Site  [PaEN]

-- Oil & Gas Industry Impacts: Navy Veterans Patrick & Helen Robinson Relate Their 7-Year Struggle Dealing With Impacts Of Mariner East Pipeline Construction In Indiana County, And They Continue   [PaEN]

-- Oil & Gas Industry Impacts: Cambria County Family Sues Sunoco After 3 Years Of Dealing With Damage To Home, Well, Septic System, Property From Mariner East Pipeline Construction    [PaEN]

-- Washington County Family Lawsuit Alleges Shale Gas Company Violated The Terms Of Their Lease By Endangering Their Health, Contaminating Their Water Supply And Not Protecting Their Land    [PaEN]

-- Natural Gas Pipeline Pigging Facility Malfunction Dec. 27 Released 1.1 Million Cubic Feet Of Natural Gas; Same Facility Plagued Community With Blowdowns 3 Times A Day, 7 Days A Week For Nearly 10 Years Until Criminal Charges Brought Against CNX  [PaEN] 

-- FracTracker Alliance Announces 7 Winners Of 2022 Community Sentinel Award For Environmental Stewardship; Including PA’s Laurie Barr  [PaEN]

Health Issues - Oil & Gas Facilities

-- Environmental Health Project: PA’s Natural Gas Boom - What Went Wrong? Why Does It Matter? What Can We Do Better To Protect Public Health?  [PaEN]

-- Environmental Health Project: Setback Distances And The Regulations We Need To Protect Public Health From Oil & Gas Facilities  [PaEN]

-- Senate Hearing: Body Of Evidence Is 'Large, Growing,’ ‘Consistent’ And 'Compelling' That Shale Gas Development Is Having A Negative Impact On Public Health; PA Must Act  [PaEN]

-- Presentations Now Available From Shale Gas & Public Health Conference In Nov. Hosted By PA League Of Women Voters & University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health   [PaEN]

-- Shale Gas & Public Health Conference: Living Near Oil & Gas Facilities Means Higher Health Risks, The Closer You Live, The Higher The Risk - By Nicole Deziel PhD MHS, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health   [PaEN]

-- Shale Gas & Public Health Conference: Economically, Socially Deprived Areas In PA Have A Much Greater Chance Of Having Oil & Gas Waste Disposed In Their Communities - By Joan Casey, PhD, Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health  [PaEN]

-- Shale Gas & Public Health Conference: We've Got Enough Compelling Evidence To Enact Health Protective Policies For Families Now - By Edward C. Ketyer, M.D., President, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania   [PaEN]

-- Shale Gas & Public Health Conference: When It Started, It Was Kind Of Nice, But What Happened Afterwards Really Kind Of Devastated Our Community - By Rev. Wesley Silva, former Council President Marianna Borough, Washington County   [PaEN]

-- Physicians For Social Responsibility Release 8th Compendium of Scientific, Medical, Media Findings On Risks, Harms Of Fracking And Oil & Gas Infrastructure   [PaEN]

-- Yale School Of Public Health Study Found PA Children 2 To 3 Times More Likely To Be Diagnosed With Leukemia If They Live Near Unconventional Shale Gas Facilities  [PaEN]

-- Guest Essay: PA's Low-Producing Conventional Oil & Gas Wells Are Leaking Too Much Methane, The Industry Needs To Take Care Of Its Own Trash   [PaEN]

-- Study: Industry Data Shows Hazardous Air Pollutants Are ‘Ubiquitous’ In The Natural Gas Transmission System; More Justification For Robust Leak Prevention Programs   [PaEN]

-- Earthworks, FracTracker Alliance Release New Online Oil & Gas Threat Map; Find Natural Gas Facilities, Wells Near You [PaEN]

-- American Lung Association Report Details Health And Environmental Impacts Of Fuel-Burning Appliances At Home  [PaEN]

Impacts On Communities - Oil & Gas Facilities

-- Inside Climate News: Q/A With Eliza Griswold Pulitzer Winning Author Of Deep Dive Into Fracking In PA, How Extractive Industries ‘Gut’ Communities  [PaEN]

-- Conventional Oil & Natural Gas Drilling: An Industrial Machine Moving Across The PA Countryside Leaving Behind Big Liabilities & Spreading Pollution Everywhere It Goes [PaEN]

-- FracTracker Alliance Releases 4th Watershed Oil & Gas Drilling Impact Analysis In Susquehanna River Basin - Towanda & Schrader Creek Watersheds    [PaEN]

-- FracTracker Alliance: Lycoming Creek Watershed Oil & Gas Drilling Impact Analysis In Lycoming County    [PaEN]

-- PJM’s Preliminary Review Of Christmas Storm Electric Generation Failures Shows Natural Gas Units Failed To Provide Power At Over Triple The Rate Of Other Generation  [PaEN]

-- PUC Alerts Consumers Utility Natural Gas Costs Will Be Going Up By As Much As 128%, Electric Costs Will Be Going Up By As Much As 34%; Both Driven By Cost Of Natural Gas On World Markets  [PaEN]

-- PA PUC: Cost Of Natural Gas Provided By Major Utilities In PA Increased As Much As 154% Over Last Year  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Valley Institute: 6% Population Loss, 3.3% Job Loss In PA's 'Natural Gas' Counties Show Misplaced Faith In Economic Benefits Of Oil & Gas [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Struggle To Plug Tatonka Oil Co. LLC’s Nancy 13 Conventional Well Leaking Gas, Production Wastewater Since 2018; Citizen Complaint Finds ‘Bubbling’ Gas Well  [PaEN] 

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - May 20   [PaEN] 

-- DEP Posts 61 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In May 20 PA Bulletin  [PaEN] 

Related Articles This Week:

-- Olympus Energy Shale Gas Driller Expresses Fear Municipalities Will Use Their DEP Compliance Record With Hundreds Of Violations To Help Make Local Land Use Decisions On Oil & Gas Infrastructure Projects  [PaEN]

-- Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group Asks DCNR To Protect State Forest Land From Seneca Shale Gas Drilling Well Pad, Comply With PA Supreme Court Decision, Protect Recreation, Wildlife  [PaEN] 

-- Citizens Voice Editorial: PA Supreme Court Reaffirms Environmental Quality Is A Right Not A Luxury In Shale Gas Drilling Ruling  [PaEN]

-- House Environmental Committee Meets May 23 To Consider Bills To Help Prevent The Routine Abandonment Of 561 Conventional Oil/Gas Wells A Year; Authorize Streambank Fencing  [PaEN]

-- Zefiro Methane Corp. Acquires PA-Based Plants & Goodwin Well Plugging Firm To Create Methane Emission Offsets  [PaEN]

-- PUC Alerts Consumers To Electricity Price Changes Coming June 1-- From 20.7% Increase To 17% Decrease; Driven By Price Of Natural Gas  [PaEN]

[Posted: May 18, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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