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Conference on shale gas drilling seeks to gather data on public safety

1/12/2012 | Real Estate Blog

On Monday, the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, as well as the group Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy put on a conference with the goal of establishing a consortium dedicated to collecting and analyzing scientific data on the effects of shale gas development on the public.

As our readers know, shale gas drilling is somewhat of a hot-button issue in Pennsylvania, where the state senate recently approved a measure that would effectively strip municipalities of zoning power over gas drilling.

Many health and environmental groups have concerns over the process of hydraulic fracturing, which involves the use of chemicals which may pose health concerns. In particular, health groups have raised the issue of potential air and water pollution as a result of such drilling, which involves injection of water mixed with sand and chemical into shale formations at high pressures in order to extract fuel.

According to a spokesman from the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing have not done the legwork to ensure the drilling process and the chemicals used are the least hazardous possible. But according to industry representatives, hydraulic fracturing has been safely performed for decades and the process has been developed to minimized negative effects.

Later this year, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish the results of an analysis of the effects of shale development on drinking water. Monday’s conference was called, in large part, because there are many researchers who believe the federal government and state government are still ignorant concerning the health effects of shale gas development.

Source: Reuters, “Study needed on shale gas effects on heath: group,” Ayesha Rascoe, January 10, 2012.