Missing from the Table: Role of the Environmental Public Health Community in Governmental Advisory Commissions Related to Marcellus Shale Drilling
Environmental Health Perspectives
10 Jan 2012 [online pre-print]
Background: The Marcellus Shale is a vast natural gas field underlying parts of Pennsylvania,
New York, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. Rapid development of this field has been
enabled by advances in hydrofracking techniques that include injection of chemical and physical
agents deep underground. Response to public concern about potential adverse environmental
and health impacts has led to the formation of state and national advisory committees.
Objectives: We review the extent to which advisory committees formed in 2011 by the US
Department of Energy and the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania contain individuals with
expertise pertinent to human environmental public health. We also analyze the extent to which
human health issues are of concern to the public by reviewing the presentations to the public
meeting of the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee.
Results: At a public hearing held by the President's Natural Gas Subcommittee 62.7% of those
not in favor of drilling mentioned health issues. Although public health is specified to be a
concern in the executive orders forming these three advisory committees, we could identify no
individuals with health expertise among the 52 members of the Pennsylvania Governor's
Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission; the Maryland Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative
Advisory Commission; or the Secretary of Energy's Natural Gas Subcommittee.
Conclusions: Despite recognition of the environmental public health concerns related to drilling
in the Marcellus Shale, neither state nor national advisory committees selected to respond to
these concerns contained recognizable environmental public health expertise.
© National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
For a copy of full article CLICK HERE