February 3, 2019:
H.R. 436, 2019-2020 (Fracking Disclosure and Safety Act)
The EEPC has been providing prudent recommendations to key federal congressional offices in the U.S. House of Representatives (Matt Cartwright D-PA-08, Mike Quigley-D-IL-05, Mark Pocan-D-WI-02, Darren Soto-D-FL-09) associated with H.R. 6768, 2017-2018, which has become H.R. 436, 2019-2020 (Fracking Disclosure and Safety Act). Our Executive Director traveled to Washington, D.C. last December to meet with various federal legislators and/or their environmental policy aides, to offer bipartisan recommendations that would provide immediate health benefits to the 17.6 million Americans residing within 1.6km (1 mile) of an active hydraulically fractured (HF) well (Konkel 2017). Currie et al. has demonstrated that infants birthed within 1km of an active HF well site will experience a 25% increase in the probability of low birth weight, and additional birth complications occur within 3km (Currie et al. 2017). Increases in childhood hematologic cancer incidences (Elliott et al. 2017; McKenzie et al. 2017) and infants born with congenital heart defects (CHD’s) have also been observed in close proximity to HF activities (McKenzie et al. 2019).
Eight states in the U.S. have more than 10% of their population residing within 1.6km of an active HF well site, with OH (24.3%), OK (46.7%), and WV (49.6%) representing the highest proportions of vulnerable communities (Srebotnjak and Rotkin-Ellman 2014; Ridlington et al. 2015; Czolowski et al. 2017).
The EEPC has obtained favorable support for our proposed amendments from Mike Nichola, Legislative Director for Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL-09), the initial sponsor of H.R. 436, 2019-2020, who has personally drafted over fifty pieces of legislation that achieved U.S. House approval while working for ex-Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL-08 & D-FL-09). Our recommendations diminish the adverse effects resulting from fugitive CH4 and VOC releases, anthropogenically induced seismicity occurring from far-field pressure diffusion, and from the proliferation of well pad development.
Community outreach and educational workshops will be implemented in the next year, to provide support to severely affected communities in PA and OH, two states where extensive HF well density disproportionally impedes the health and safety of the elderly, children, and economically disadvantaged citizens (Ogneva-Himmelberger and Huang 2015).
July 23, 2019:
The EEPC traveled to D.C. once again to discuss complications affiliated with H.R. 436, 2019-2020, and met with federal legislators and/or their environmental policy aides. We once again received positive support for our exhortation from every office that we met with, including the office of Congressman Jaime Raskin (D-MD-08). If H.R. 436, 2019-2020 begins to acquire traction from additional federal legislators, Congressman Raskin has offered to adopt our recommendations, and collaborate with the EEPC to introduce new amendments.
This project also intends to reduce existing statutory loopholes initiated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that H.R. 436, 4006, 4007, and 2711 (2019-2020) fail to address, including but not limited to, § 502 of the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act exclusion pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 15924(b).
September 20, 2019:
From September 20-27, over 7 million individuals from 185 countries participated in the largest climate strike ever conducted in human history. The U.S. effort was orchestrated by a youth-led climate strike coalition, which included Future Coalition, Zero Hour, Earth Uprising, Fridays For Future USA, Sunrise, U.S. Youth Climate Strike, and Extinction Rebellion Youth. The EPCC, along with over 800 additional organizations, are currently supporting this youth-led movement.
EEPC Children's Committee, Portland, Oregon, USA - September 20, 2019
March 3, 2020:
H.R. 5175, 2019-2020, § 21 (Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2019)
Our Executive Director journeyed to D.C. once again, but this time to meet with republican legislators and staff to discuss amendments for H.R. 5175, 2019-2020, § 21 (Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2019), and received tremendous support for our proposal. Due to the extensive polarization currently being exhibited between both major political parties, and the genuine praise that we received from republican legislators and staff, we have decided develop a new bill (Methane Capture for Infant Safety and Energy Security Act of 2020) that could easily achieve bipartisan support in the House and Senate, since our legislative concept has now been accepted by both democrats and republicans. Our goal is to secure a minimum of 4-5 legislators from both parties to initially introduce the bill, with Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV-03) or Congressman David McKinley (R-WV-01) as the primary sponsor.
Methane Capture for Infant Safety and Energy Security Act of 2020
The Methane Capture for Infant Safety and Energy Security Act of 2020 would mandate the implementation of quantitative methods (U.S. EPA Method 21, § 2.1) for fugitive CH4 leak detection, when an active HF well site is within 3km of a human population, to diminish adverse effects associated with infant mortality, increase worker safety, and also to capture CH4 to provide enhanced energy and economic security.
Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) suggested that we select someone who’s district is most impacted by this legislation lead the bill. Since WV has 46.7% of their population residing within 1.6km of an active HF well, we felt that Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV-03) or Congressman David McKinley (R-WV-01) would be optimum candidates. We are also currently working with the offices of Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA-07), Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH-12), and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) to have them become the additional initial republican cosponsors of this bipartisan legislation.
Despite our federal legislature being portrayed as vastly polarized in regards to environmental policy, more than any other time in U.S. history (Figure 1), the EEPC has developed a solution that provides a realistic opportunity for achieving bipartisanship.
Figure 1: Percentage of Federal Legislators Voting for Pro-Environmental Regulations (1970-2015)
(Dunlap et al. 2016)
Currie J, Greenstone M, Meckel K. 2017. Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: new evidence from Pennsylvania. Science Advances, 3:e1603021. 13 December 2017. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/12/e1603021
Czolowski E, Santoro R, Srebotnjak T, Shonkoff S. 2017. Toward consistent methodology to quantify populations in proximity to oil and gas development: a national spatial analysis and review. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(8):086004. doi: 10.1289/EHP1535. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/EHP1535
Dunlap R, McCright A, Yarosh J. 2016. The political divide on climate change: partisan polarization widens in the U.S.. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 58(5): 4-23. 10.1080/00139157.2016.1208995
Elliott E, Trinh P, Ma X, Leaderer B, Ward M, Deziel N. 2017. Unconventional oil and gas development and risk of childhood leukemia: assessing the evidence. Science of the Total Environment, 576: 138−147. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170423
Konkel L. 2017. In the neighborhood of 18 million: estimating how many people live near oil and gas wells. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(8): 124003-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963578/pdf/EHP2553.pdf
McKenzie L, Allshouse W, Daniels S. 2019. Congenital heart defects and intensity of oil and gas well site activities in early pregnancy. Environment International, 132: 104949, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.104949
McKenzie L, Allshouse W, Byers T, Bedrick E, Serdar B, Adgate J. 2017. Childhood hematologic cancer and residential proximity to oil and gas development. PLoS ONE, 12(2): e0170423. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170423
Ogneva-Himmelberger Y, Huang L. 2015. Spatial distribution of unconventional gas wells and human populations in the Marcellus Shale in the United States: vulnerability analysis. Applied Geography, 60(2015): 165-174. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0143622815000776
Ridlington E, Dutzik T, Van Heeke T, Garber A, Masur D. 2015. Dangerous and close: fracking near Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents. Frontier Group. https://pennenvironmentcenter.org/sites/environment/files/reports/PA_Close_Fracking_scrn.pdf