PSE Energy Quarterly is the newsletter of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a nonprofit research institute dedicated to supplying evidence-based scientific and technical information on the public health, environmental, and climate dimensions of energy production and use.
17.6M Americans live close to active oil and gas (and fracking) wells
An estimated 17.6 million Americans live within one mile of an active oil or gas well, according to a study published August 23 in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The study, led by PSE Energy and Environment Program Associate Eliza Czolowski, is the first peer-reviewed nationwide measurement of the number of people living in close proximity to actively producing oil and gas wells.
Studies have found that active oil and gas production degrades air and water quality, contaminates soil, and elevates exposures to noise and light pollution. When people live within a mile of these operations, they are at higher risk for numerous medical issues, according to separate peer-reviewed studies.
But the few published peer-reviewed studies that quantify populations living in proximity to these operations do not tie pollution emissions to specific types of oil and gas development operations.
“Our study was specifically designed to determine how many Americans have increased health risks from potential exposure to pollutants emitted from oil and gas development,” said Czolowski.
Greening the Garden State New Jersey can halve its electric-power-sector CO2 emissions by 2030 while substantially increasing renewables and energy efficiency with no electricity cost increase, according to “A Clean Energy Pathway for New Jersey,” a report co-led by researchers from PSE and the Institute of Energy and Environmental Research. Clean Energy Program Director Elena Krieger and Research Associate Boris Lukanov co-authored the analysis for Rethink Energy NJ and the NJ Conservation Foundation. A September 28 symposium unpacked the report for state energy stakeholders.
Pioneering Spirit The Collaborative on Health and Environment named PSE Executive Director Seth Shonkoff one of this year’s “20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health” for his “exceptional level of accomplishment in work that is rigorous, dynamic, and builds critical knowledge.” The honorees will share their work in the “Pioneers Under 40” webinar series.
Trade Secrets vs. Public Health Hazards PSE Advisory Board President Dr. Adam Law blogs about a fracking-chemical poisoning event. He discusses the broader significance of the case report data, including the lack of available information on the chemicals involved in the incident.
What’s In It? Shonkoff and Senior Research Scientist Dominic DiGiulio co-authored “Is Reuse of Produced Water Safe?” an article in the Air and Waste Management Association’s August EM Magazine (subscription). Citing current research, they argue for effective treatment, monitoring, and analysis of chemical compounds in produced water before it enters the food system.
Transatlantic Hydrocarbon Talks This summer, DiGiulio gave a presentation at the Transatlantic Knowledge Sharing Conference on Unconventional Hydrocarbons in Amsterdam. He talked about improving leak detection to better evaluate the migration of subsurface natural gas to the surface and to inhabited structures — quality assurance and control procedures that can prevent explosions and improve estimates of greenhouse gas concentrations.
PSE IN THE NEWS
“The report projects that the state can improve its energy savings from just 0.6 percent currently to 2 percent annually, a target achieved by other states.”
A NJ Spotlight article reports on findings from “A Clean Energy Pathway for NJ,” a study co-led by Elena Krieger and co-authored by Boris Lukanov. Following a September 28 state capitol press conference announcing the study’s release (pictured), two key state-news media outlets covered the story: the Spotlight and radio station 101.5.
‘The closer you are to a well, the more likely you are to have health impacts.’
Eliza Czolowski discusses the findings of her proximity study in a story on Environmental Health News’s The Daily Climate. Extensive media coverage of the study also included articles in The International Business Times and The Daily Mail (UK) and an item in Politico.
‘The support of the coal industry was won with the misleading promise that coal mining jobs would return — a fallacy that even the coal CEO and Trump supporter Robert Murray does not believe is true.’
In an opinion piece published in The Hill, Elena Krieger responds to Trump’s March 28 executive order to dismantle Obama Administration climate policies.
‘The thing we’re most concerned about is whether these chemicals are going to migrate from the water into the plant, and particularly into the edible portion of the plant.’
Seth Shonkoff provided commentary and background information for this NBC Bay Area investigative report on the safety of produced water, which first aired in late February.
This issue of PSE Energy Quarterly was published October 3, 2017, in Oakland, California.
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