From Asthma to Cancer, 'Blistering' New Report Details Human Cost of Fracking
By Jessica Corbett
A team of researchers on Tuesday released a "blistering" report on the serious public health threats—from headaches to asthma to cancer—posed by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process of injecting a mix of water and chemicals into rocks to release oil and natural gas.
The study—described as "the most authoritative" of its kind—was published by Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Researchers found that "by several measures, evidence for fracking-related health problems is emerging across the United States and Canada."
Looking to Pennsylvania—a hotbed for fracking—as an example, the report says that "as the number of gas wells increase in a community, so do rates of hospitalization, and community members experience sleep disturbance, headache, throat irritation, stress/anxiety, cough, shortness of breath, sinus, fatigue, wheezing and nausea."
"Drilling and fracking operations are also correlated with increased rates of asthma, elevated motor vehicle fatalities, ambulance runs and emergency room visits and gonorrhea incidence," according to the report, for which researchers analyzed thousands of journalistic investigations, government research and peer-reviewed scientific articles.
The report also notes that levels of benzene "in ambient air surrounding drilling and fracking operations are sufficient to elevate risks for future cancers in both workers and nearby residents," and "animal studies show numerous threats to fertility and reproductive success from exposure to various concentrations of oil and gas chemicals, including at levels representative of those found in drinking water."
"Those of us in the public health sector started to realize years ago that there were potential risks, then the industry rolled out faster than we could do our science," she said. "Now we see those risks have turned into human harms and people are getting sick.... And we in this field have a moral imperative to raise the alarm."
Climate activist and 350.org cofounder Bill McKibben said in a tweet that the new report serves as a powerful reminder that it's not just the planet that experiences harmful consequences as a result of fracking:
This is the fifth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction), and the researchers note that "given the rapidly expanding body of evidence related to the harms and risks of unconventional oil and gas extraction, we plan to continue revising and updating the compendium approximately every year."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.