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.
PA Residents Shoulder Health Impacts of State’s Oil and Gas Waste
More than 80 percent of all waste from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas drilling operations stays inside the state, according to a new study, led by PSE Research Associate Lee Ann Hill, that tracks the disposal locations of liquid and solid waste from these operations across 26 years. Numerous human health hazards have been associated with waste from oil and gas extraction, including potential exposure to compounds known to cause cancer. The study is the first comprehensive assessment of Pennsylvania’s liquid and solid waste-disposal practices, tracking from 1991 – when the state began collecting waste-disposal information – through 2017.
Air Quality/Public Health Gap Air pollution near oil and gas production typically measures in concentrations within healthy air standards, yet a majority of studies continue to find that poor human-health outcomes increase the closer people live or work to these operations, according to a new study that examines six years of peer-reviewed, published research on hazardous air pollutants associated with the extraction of oil and natural gas. While it is unclear why there is a gap in the evidence between environmental sampling and health-based studies, the study, published in the journal Annual Reviews of Public Health, provides insights into methodological shortcomings that may help explain this discrepancy. The study was led by UCLA in collaboration with PSE Executive Director Dr. Seth B.C. Shonkoff. Read the PSE news story or the UCLA press release.
Congressional Witness On May 16, PSE Senior Research Scientist Dr. Dominic DiGiulio testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee, addressing the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Dr. DiGiulio was part of a four-witness panel in a session investigating “Oil and Gas Development: Impacts of Water Pollution Above and Below Ground.” He presented numerous PSE research findings that demonstrate impacts to groundwater resources from oil and gas development. Read oral and written testimony or watch the video of the congressional hearing. Dr. DiGuilio’s testimony begins at minute 22:42 of the video.
Water Board Testimony Pursuant to California Senate Bill 4, the California State Water Resources Control Board is required to revisit its definition of protected groundwater during oil and gas development by 2020. PSE Executive Director Dr. Seth B.C. Shonkoff was invited to brief the board on the importance of protecting groundwater resources during oil and gas development. Shonkoff focused on the need to establish and maintain criteria that protect groundwater resources at least equivalent to the standards and definitions of underground sources of drinking water under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Go to the presentation.
Med School Curriculum Update “Given the mounting evidence that changes in the climate system have the potential to adversely affect human health, the curriculum for medical, nursing, and public health degree programs should incorporate curricula to reflect the health risks and harms associated with a changing climate,” says PSE board member Dr. Madelon Finkel in a call-to-action April blog post. Dr. Finkel makes the case that climate change has impacts on mental and physical health that medical professionals must incorporate into their understanding of human health. Read the blog post.
PSE in the News
PA Headlines Media coverage of the research article tracking waste disposal from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas development included this Environmental Health News article. The story also ran in Environmental News Network, led the news site’s Daily Climate newsletter, and was widely circulated on social media. Coverage included two posts from two prominent blogs: PA Environmental Daily, run by the David E. Hess, a former secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, environmental provides a detailed, locally focused analysis of the study. DeSmogBlog post used the research publication to address an EPA decision that left fracking wastewater unregulated.
Natural Gas Liquids This article in Scienceline, a reporting project from NYU’s journalism program, extensively quotes PSE Executive Director Dr. Seth B.C. Shonkoff on the potential environmental and health hazards associated with increased production of natural gas liquids, a natural-gas product used in manufacturing synthetic materials such as plastic and nylon.
This issue of PSE Energy Quarterly was published November 15, 2018, in Oakland, California.
Copyright PSE Healthy Energy. All rights reserved.