No Fracking Way

Fracking Health Study in Pennsylvania

by Dory Hippauf on February 19, 2013

DoctorBig headlines about $1 million grant for Pa. gas drilling health study from the Degenstein Foundation.    No much information about Degenstein Foundation, web page yields little.

“The Degenstein Foundation was created to improve the quality of life and to provide financial support to organizations with clear statements of purpose, well defined programs, and competent leadership. Thanks to the generosity of Charles B. Degenstein, the residents of central Pennsylvania will benefit forever.

Special consideration is given to unique, innovative, and creative projects that benefit children, promote education, improve health care, encourage business, culture, conservation of nature resources, and protection of the environment. “

Sidney Apfelbaum is co-trustee of the Degenstein Foundation along with his sons, Michael and Jeffrey, as well as BNY Mellon Bank.

In the Winter 2013 newsletter: Geisinger Leads Marcellus Shale Initiative | Coalition explores the potential health effects of natural gas mining in the region.

Excerpt: Geisinger—as a major healthcare provider in the region—is in a unique position to analyze relevant health data that can provide reliable information for policy makers. Dr. Carey states, “We want to do this in a scientifically rigorous and unbiased way. We’re not going into this with any preconceived notions. To determine the long term outcomes, we need solid data that can be used to guide rational policies, propose mitigations where they are needed, and reduce exposures.”

Excerpt: The Marcellus Shale initiative is expected to unfold in a series of phases. Phase I covers the short term (3-5 years). The aims of Phase 1 include:

• Creating an inventory of existing data sources related to the environment, health, and communities within the affected region

• Identifying gaps in existing data

• Creating a data collection infrastructure to fill the gaps

• Analyzing data to identify trends in the status of the environment, health and communities

• Initiating one or two focused pilot studies to identify if links exist between drilling activities and health, environment or socioeconomic outcomes.

Excerpt (emphasis added) : To examine issues such as possible health effects will require decades of research. Timing right now is critical for this study. As Dr. Carey says, “If we wait too long, it will be hard to get baseline data. There are a lot of places interested in studying this. We’ve already put a stake in the ground and we’ve gotten some attention and credit for that, but we’ve got to move to where we’re actually collecting data and doing some analysis.”

Decades?  Many people can not afford to wait decades.

The ‘study’ is basically going to be data collection of people living near natural gas well pads etc, and cataloging their symptoms/complaints and diagnoses.

Problems:

1. Act 13 Medical Gag rule prevents sharing of information

2. Medical personnel, in general, do not know what to look for, so how can you diagnose someone with something like heavy metal poisoning if you don’t look for it or know what to look for.   Educating Medical personal is needed, but sharing of information is not allowed via the Act 13 Medical Gag rule – this is going to be a big problem.  If medical personnel use FracFocus as a source, this presents the problem with the accuracy and reliability of the info.  See FracUNfocused.

3. This has me a bit concerned “Carey said the company isn’t presuming anything about the issue, though it is aware of both concerns and the economic value of the shale boom.”    How much is the “economic value of the shale boom” going to come into play?

Meanwhile, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is touting this little item:  Pa.’s Geisinger Health System “Considers Natural Gas Stations”: A Geisinger Health System administrator says the company is studying the potential for a business partnership to create a natural gas fueling station. Al Neuner, vice president of facilities operations, said that the review is part of a continuing evaluation of a state grant program providing incentives for using natural gas to fuel fleet vehicles like large trucks and, in Geisinger’s case, shuttle buses.

MSC goes on to blather about low prices.  Natural Gas fuel may be low now and seem like a bargain……but……..  Investors are subsidizing natural gas consumers. But it won’t last. | Investors have pushed so much capital into natural gas drilling that prices have collapsed, helping consumers. But the investor subsidy won’t last as drillers pull back. | By Kurt Cobb | Christian Science Monitor | February 18, 2013

Excerpt: So, where does that leave the working stiffs who heat their homes with natural gas, the utilities who burn it to make electricity, and the chemical manufacturers who use it as a feedstock for many chemicals including nitrogen fertilizer? They all face an uncertain future in which natural gas prices are likely to rise significantly, perhaps even returning to the double-digit nosebleed levels of 2008 before gun-shy investors and drillers will dare to take the necessary steps to bring on significant new supply.

Don’t forget about the impact fee kickback to the Natural Gas Corporation to build the NG fueling stations:  Act 13, through the impact fee, creates a new three-year Natural Gas Energy Development Program, to be administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. Over the next three years, this program will make $20 million in grant funds available on a competitive basis to purchase or convert eligible vehicles to natural gas.

A study by Earthworks received this response from the Marcellus Shale Coalition:

Excerpt:   The study results are questionable because of the participants chosen for the survey may have come in with a bias against drilling, according to Steve Forde, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group. “

Earthworks Study: Where oil and gas development goes, health problems often follow.

On the political front, the theme of “responsible drilling” is becoming the campaign buzzword.   Unfortunately, no one has adequately defined “responsible drilling”, it just sounds good in campaign speeches and press releases.   Some may throw out another buzzword “Best Practices”.  Again, this is not adequately defined – what is “best practices” and who determines “best practices”?   Responsible Drilling – Just sayin’

I imagine it won’t be long before the Geisinger Study finds its way into the speeches too, but the public will need to wait DECADES before finding out the health consequences, and that will be too late for many.  Although if the “concerns and the economic value of the shale boom” trump all, we will never find out.

©2013 by Dory Hippauf 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

deb February 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

Sounds like a well funded program to artificially give people the idea that they are protected.

I want to scream! RUN! It’s a trap!!!

Reply

Dory Hippauf February 19, 2013 at 9:27 am

Don’t forget the study will take decades. By then, effected people will be dead, the gas industry gone from PA, and the results will be “oh well, nothing we can do about it now”

Reply

FrackFighter February 19, 2013 at 10:44 am

responsible drilling…oxymoronic frackspeak

“It’s, like, a safety bomb.” (James Patterson)

or Bachmann on the Intelligence Committee

Reply

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