Thursday, April 05, 2012

House Dems Urge EPA To Consider Fracking Impact Report

Apr 3: House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting that the EPA consider a new study by the Colorado School of Public Health that reveals potential increased health threats from exposure to toxic chemicals near natural gas wells. They noted that EPA is currently finalizing new standards for natural gas operations to reduce emissions that can cause cancer and other serious health effects.
    In their letter, the Member indicate, ". . .we ask that you consider a new study from the Colorado School of Public Health that raises concerns about the potential public health impact of air emissions from unconventional gas drilling operations. The findings from this study, while preliminary, reinforce the importance of your forthcoming rules and the need for additional research.
    "Scientists at the Colorado School of Public Health examined three years of air monitoring data in Garfield County, Colorado and concluded that residents living near natural gas wells may face increased exposure to benzene, a known human carcinogen, and other toxic chemicals, such as ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylene. The researchers found higher lifetime cancer risks for people living closer to the wells. They also concluded that these nearby residents have a higher risk of experiencing neurological and respiratory health effects, such as headaches, throat and eye irritation, impaired lung capacity, dizziness, fatigue, numbness in the limbs, and tremors. The authors concluded:
"[P]reliminary results indicate that health effects resulting from air emissions during development of unconventional natural gas resources are most likely to occur in residents living nearest to the well pads and warrant further study.  Risk prevention efforts should be directed towards reducing air emission exposures for persons living and working near wells during well completions."
    The report entitled, Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources, by Lisa M. McKenzie, Roxana Z. Witter, Lee S. Newman, and John L. Adgate, Colorado School of Public Health, was released on March 19, 2012. The report is posted on the site of Erie Rising, "a grassroots, mom (parent) powered organization, dedicated to protecting our children, our health, our environment and our community."
    Erie Rising, based in Erie, CO, indicates that its position on natural gas drilling and mining using hydraulic fracturing is: "We believe the onus lies squarely with the gas companies and our elected officials to prove that natural gas drilling and mining by fracturing is safe and does not pose a real or imminent threat to our children, our health or our environment. We are seeking scientific studies and other information to prove we are not at risk from this activity. We pledge that, in the absence of that proof, we will take action to keep it out of our community and away from our schools until such proof is available."
    Access a release and the letter from the Members (click here). Access the complete report with extensive links to referenced documents (click here). Access the Erie Rising (click here). [#Energy/Frack, #Air, #Toxics]

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