H.R. 436, 2019-2020 (Fracking Disclosure and Safety Act)
February 3, 2019:
The EEPC has been providing prudent recommendations to key federal congressional offices in the U.S. House of Representatives (PA-08, IL-05, WI-02, 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 1.6 km (1 mile) of an active hydraulically fractured (HF) well (Konkel 2017). Currie et al. has demonstrated that infants birthed within 1 km of an active HF well site will experience a 25% increase in the probability of low birth weight, and additional birth complications occur within 3 km (Currie et al. 2017). Increases in childhood hematologic cancer rates have also been observed in close proximity to HF activities (Elliott et al. 2017; McKenzie et al. 2017).
Eight states in the US have more than 10% of their population residing within 1.6 km of an active HF well site, with OH (24.3%), OK (46.7%), and WV (49.6%) representing the highest proportions of vulnerable populations in close proximity (Srebotnjak and Rotkin-Ellman 2014; Ridlington et al. 2015; Czolowski et al. 2017). Since the oil and gas industry primarily conducts their operations in rural and economically depressed regions, this act of environmental injustice disproportionally affects vulnerable communities.
The EEPC has obtained favorable support for our proposed amendments from Mike Nichola, legislative director for Congressman Darren Soto (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 (FL-08 & FL-09). Our recommendations diminish the adverse effects resulting from fugitive CH4 and VOC emissions, anthropogenically induced seismicity, 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 (Fracking Disclosure and Safety Act), 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 (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, in an effort to safeguard the tens of millions of Americans living within 3km (1.86 miles) of an active HF well.
Currie J, Greenstone M, Meckel K. 2017. Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: new evidence from Pennsylvania. Science Adv, 3:e1603021. 13 December 2017.
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.
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. Sci. Total Environ, 576: 138−147.
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.
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.
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.
Ridlington E, Dutzik T, Van Heeke T, Garber A, Masur D. 2015. Dangerous and close: fracking near Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents. Frontier Group.