35 Senate, House Democrats Urge Gov. Wolf To Investigate Health Impacts Associated With Natural Gas Fracking

On March 17, Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester) and Rep. Sara Innamorato (D-Allegheny) along with 33 members of the House and Senate, publicly requested Gov. Wolf direct adequate funding to thoroughly study the full and complete health impacts of fracking, including radioactivity exposure evaluations and a source exposure analysis, to best identify the specific cause of public health harm for all Pennsylvanians near industrial oil and gas fracking.

“Recent studies, such as the multifamily investigation published by the Environmental Health News, highlight the true risk so many Pennsylvania families face due to toxic and radioactive contamination caused by fracking,” said Sen. Muth.  “Quite frankly, allowing children and families from throughout our Commonwealth to suffer in the name of corporate profit is unacceptable, unethical, and immoral.  We are calling on Gov. Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to immediately initiate a comprehensive study of the health impacts of fracking that relies on a best practice biomonitoring approach.  Anything less will only result in faulty data focused on proving a negative rather than protecting the public.”

The request was made in a bicameral letter to Gov. Wolf highlighting the results of comprehensive scientific investigation of families who live within miles of multiple hydraulic fracturing wells in Westmoreland and Washington counties. 

Initial results showed high levels of benzene and butylcyclohexane in both the drinking water and air samples.  Chemicals such as ethylbenzene, styrene, and toluene were also found in the bodies of children who live near fracking well sites. 

The chemicals identified in the study are linked to a wide range of health impacts, such as increased risk of cancer, skin and respiratory irritation, permanent organ damage, and irreversible neurological impacts.

“This administration has assured that families who live in the shadow of hydraulic fracturing infrastructure will be protected from negative health consequences,” said Rep. Innamorato.  “This study adds to the ever-growing mountain of evidence that illustrates that this is not the case. While this study is small in size, the preliminary results are alarming and studies of this nature must be expanded upon as part of the Governor’s plan to ensure the health and safety of all residents of this Commonwealth.”

“This past year has demonstrated how seriously we must take public health. We need to immediately implement the dedicated funds to study the health impacts of fracking and identify all of the harms to the people living in communities affected by it.”  Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware) continued,  “Specifically, our methodologies need to be reflective of quality public health studies like those done in Washington and Westmoreland Counties. Only then can we truly learn the full extent of the problem, the real effects on public health, and how to address it.”

“Representing a district plagued by negative health outcomes caused by decades of PFAS contamination, I am acutely aware of the need to invest more in these types of studies and proudly stand with my colleagues in urging further research to assess the health risks associated with proximity to fracking sites,” said Sen. Maria Collett (D-Bucks).

“The past year has shown the importance of protecting public health for our families and our future,” said Sen. Timothy Kearney (D-Chester). “We need to better understand the dangers posed to people living near fracking sites, and we should be using a similar methodology as the pilot study in Washington and Westmoreland Counties. As public servants, we must do all we can to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities we call home.”

The letter to Gov. Wolf referenced the recent decision by the Delaware River Basin Commission to ban all hydraulic fracking in the Delaware River Basin due to unavoidable risk of drinking water contamination for millions of Pennsylvanians.  Read more here.

The DRBC was formed through concurrent compact legislation of the four Delaware River Basin states and the federal government.  Gov. Wolf has a seat on this commission and voted in favor of the fracking ban. 

The joint letter requests clarification on the degree of protection those living outside of the Delaware watershed have from the harmful health risks associated with fracking and directly inquires if the Administration believes fracking is safe for families throughout the Commonwealth.

Click Here for a copy of the letter.

[Note: In December, the Wolf Administration signed a $2.5 million contract with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to conduct research on the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania.  Read more here.]


Environmental Health News: The Body Burden Of Living Near Fracking

Related Articles:

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

-- Better Path Coalition Hosts Environmental Health News ‘The Body Burden Of Living Near Fracking’ Reporter In March 24 Webinar

-- Delaware River Basin Commission Bans Hydraulic Fracking Drilling Activities In Watershed; Will Develop Regs To Manage Drilling Wastewater

-- 16 Members Of PA Senate Democratic Caucus Filed Motion To Intervene In PA Senate Republican Caucus Legal Challenge To Delaware River Basin Commission Natural Gas Fracking Ban

[Posted: March 18, 2021]


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