Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doctors seek budget funding to perform health assessment on hydrofracking

March 26, 2012
Members of the medical community are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate to include funding for a health impact assessment on natural gas exploration, including hydraulic fracturing, in the 2012-2013 state budget.

A letter addressed to Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, is signed by 26 medical organizations and professionals who say the Assembly included $100,000 for a comprehensive study on the impacts of gas drilling. They are concerned about the potential dangers that could result from hydraulic fracturing.

"Despite these attempts to communicate serious concerns that the medical community has made, the state completely omitted an assessment of potential health impacts in the [revised impact statement]," said Elie Ward, director of policy and advocacy for the American Academy of Pediatrics District II, New York State.

Monday, March 26, 2012

FRACKING:  Walter Brasch / Eco Watch (Part 2 of 3)  03-20-2012  

Health and Environmental Impact Greater than claimed

The natural gas industry defends hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, as safe and efficient. Thomas J. Pyle, president of theInstitute for Energy Research, a pro-industry non-profit organization, claims fracking has been “a widely deployed as safe extraction technique,” dating back to 1949. What he doesn’t say is that until recently energy companies had used low-pressure methods to extract natural gas from fields closer to the surface than the current high-pressure technology that extracts more gas, but uses significantly more water, chemicals and elements.
The industry claims well drilling in the Marcellus Shale will bring several hundred thousand jobs, and has minimal health and environmental risk. President Obama in his January 2012 State of the Union, said he believes the development of natural gas as an energy source to replace fossil fuels could generate 600,000 jobs.
However, research studies by economists Dr. Jannette M. BarthDr. Deborah Rogers, and others debunk the idea of significant job creation.
Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says “no evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination.” Fracking “has never been found to contaminate a water well,” says Christine Cronkright, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Research studies and numerous incidents of water contamination prove otherwise.
In late 2010, equipment failure may have led to toxic levels of chemicals in the well water of at least a dozen families in Conoquenessing Twp. in Butler County. Township officials and Rex Energy, although acknowledging that two of the drilling wells had problems with the casings, claimed there were pollutants in the drinking water before Rex moved into the area. John Fair disagrees. “Everybody had good water a year ago,” Fair told environmental writer and activist Iris Marie Bloom in February 2012. Bloom says residents told her the color of water changed (to red, orange and gray) after Rex began drilling. Among chemicals detected in the well water, in addition to methane gas, were ammonia, arsenic, chloromethane, iron, manganese, t-butyl alcohol and toluene. While not acknowledging that its actions could have caused the pollution, Rex did provide fresh water to the residents, but then stopped doing so on Feb. 29, 2012, after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the well water was safe. The residents vigorously disagreed and staged protests against Rex; environmental activists and other residents trucked in portable water jugs to help the affected families. Jospeh P. McMurry of the Marcellus Outreach Butler blog (MOB) declared that residents’ “lives have been severely disrupted and their health has been severely impacted. To unceremoniously ‘close the book’ on investigations into their troubles when so many indicators point to the culpability of the gas industry for the disruption of their lives is unconscionable.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fracking: Pennsylvania Gags Physicians

by: Walter Brasch, Dissident Voice | News Analysis,
This is Part One of a Three-Part Series.
A new Pennsylvania law endangers public health by forbidding health care professionals from sharing information they learn about certain chemicals and procedures used in high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. The procedure is commonly known as fracking. Walter Brasch goes on to say:
“I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice,” says Dr. Helen Podgainy, a pediatrician from Coraopolis, Pa. She says it’s common for physicians, epidemiologists, and others in the health care field to discuss and consult with each other about the possible problems that can affect various populations. Her first priority, she says, “is to diagnose and treat, and to be proactive in preventing harm to others.” The new law, she says, not only “hinders preventative measures for our patients, it slows the treatment process by gagging free discussion.”
Psychologists are also concerned about the effects of fracking and the law’s gag order. “We won’t know the extent of patients becoming anxious or depressed because of a lack of information about the fracking process and the chemicals used,” says Kathryn Vennie of Hawley, Pa., a clinical psychologist for 30 years. She says she is already seeing patients “who are seeking support because of the disruption to their environment.” Anxiety in the absence of information, she says, “can produce both mental and physical problems.”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mortgages for Drilling Properties May Face Hurdle

     The Department of Agriculture is considering requiring an extensive environmental review before issuing mortgages to people who have leased their land for oil and gas drilling.
     Last year more than 140,000 families, many of them with low incomes and living in rural areas, received roughly $18 billion in loans or loan guarantees from the department under the Rural Housing Service program. Much of the money went to residents in states that have seen the biggest growth in drilling in recent years, including Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana.
The article goes on to say:
     The environmental reviews being proposed by the Agriculture Department would give the public a fuller accounting of the potential environmental risks of drilling, the experts said. Such reviews would also help protect the agency from litigation from environmental groups — a cost that would ultimately be borne by taxpayers.
But the Agriculture Department’s notice would also mean that landowners who had already signed leases to allow drilling on their land would face hurdles if they applied for federally backed mortgages.                                                                                                                                                       

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14, 2012

Superintendent: Brine too risky for Otsego roads

COOPERSTOWN -- Otsego County Highway Superintendent Ron Tiderencel said Tuesday that brine from natural gas well production poses too many risks to use on public roads.

"You really don't know what's in it," Tiderencel said. Given those questions, he said he would not authorize spreading it on county roads, many running by houses that draw water from wells not far from the pavement.

Even though regular road salt is more expensive, he said, "I think I'd stick with what works."

County lawmakers began delving into the use of brine spreading on local roads after The Daily Star recently reported on citizen concerns arising from a tanker truck releasing the substance on roads in the town of Pittsfield in 2010. The company involved in that spreading approached town officials, offering to spread the substance without charge. State officials later told The Daily Star that the fluid apparently came from a local gas well.
Read More:

NY Assembly calls for fracking health impact study

Mar. 13, 2012                                               

Mary Esch
The Associated Press

ALBANY -- Environmental and health groups are praising the New York State Assembly for including an independent health impact study of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in its budget proposal on Monday.

Numerous physicians, health organizations and environmental groups have criticized the Department of Environmental Conservation for not including a comprehensive health impact study in its environmental review of gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Gas drilling in New York's part of the Marcellus Shale has been on hold since the DEC review began in 2008. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens have said the review and new regulations are expected to be completed within a few months.  
The article goes on to say:  The Medical Society of the State of New York has called for a moratorium on natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing until scientific information on health impacts is available. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cuomo and Corbett Ignore Health Concerns from Gas Fracking

© Copyright K A and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License.
After natural gas drilling began near their rural homes about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Carol Moten and her neighbors noticed that their well water began to smell. Then came the headaches, skin lesions, and diarrhea, in household after household. A two-year-old dog fell over dead.
“We’re talking about little children that have nosebleeds, cats that fall off windowsills,” she said.
Three years ago, Moten and her neighbor, Donald Allison, visited Dr. Amelia Pare in nearby McMurray for their skin infections. Allison’s health continued to deteriorate and earlier this month he died from what the neighborhood understood to be bone cancer. He was 46. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Federal Scientists Warn NY of Fracking Risks

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
By Dusty Horwitt, Senior Counsel 

The U.S. Geological Survey has warned New York state regulators that their plan to allow drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale could endanger private water wells, municipal aquifers and New York City’s drinking water supply.
The assessment of the USGS, widely regarded as impartial and authoritative on drilling issues, intensifies pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to proceed with a drilling plan drafted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Cuomo has pledged to “let the science and the facts make the determination, not emotion and not politics.”

Read More:

Localities should get voice in fracking

Poughkeepsie Journal

OPINION / Editorial

10:23 PM, Feb. 29, 2012 
It seems more than plausible that the state won’t outright ban a controversial method of extracting natural gas from the ground but instead will limit the practice through a strident permitting process.
The Editorial goes on to say…
New York’s planning laws are rooted in home rule or local determination. It’s why cities, towns and villages spend so much time on their master plans and zoning laws, as they should. Not all localities get this right, but they must be empowered to try. Toward this end, dozens of municipalities across the state have taken action to ban hydrofracking in their areas, either by issuing a moratorium or using zoning laws to prohibit the activity. That’s because energy companies have set their sights on lands known as the Marcellus Shale, stretching across the Southern Tier and a portion of the Hudson Valley.