As a medical student and resident of Lancaster County, I am extremely concerned about the health implications of natural gas development in Pennsylvania and the false information being spread by pro-industry firms.
A report by Energy In Depth, a pro-unconventional gas development organization, claims mortality rates have declined or remained stable in six Pennsylvania counties from 2000 to 2014. However, a peer-reviewed study by researchers at Princeton University, the University of Chicago and UCLA found that infants living within a half-mile of a fracked-gas well were 25 percent more likely to have low birth weight and therefore greater risk of infant mortality, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, lower test scores and lower lifetime earnings.
The first, industry-backed study seeks to use weakly correlated data to justify widespread pollution of our natural resources for the profit of a few at the expense of the health of the many. On the other hand, the peer-reviewed, scientific study adds to the mounting evidence that informs us fracking is bad for our health, our water and our planet. In these times of “alternative facts,” please don’t allow a well-funded industry to obscure this scientifically verified reality.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society and Physicians for Social Responsibility have called for a halt to fracking. But big gas and oil corporations run Pennsylvania. Our legislators’ embrace of widespread fracking causes real threats to our health. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Lancaster County, carrying fracked gas from northern Pennsylvania, jeopardizes the health of thousands of people in our county and beyond. We must insist that Gov. Tom Wolf listen to the reliable, peer-reviewed science, and protect Pennsylvanians from the health consequences of these dirty energy projects. The governor must ban fracking — not soon, not someday, but right now!