Natural Gas Industry to Gov. Wolf: Commitment to Health, Safety “Exceptionally Personal” for Local Workforce

For the tens-of-thousands of local Pennsylvanians who produce clean, abundant energy, there’s no higher responsibility than the protection and improvement of our environment, leaders of the Commonwealth’s three oil and natural gas trade associations wrote in a letter to Governor Wolf this week. The letter details the “exceptionally personal” commitment to responsibly producing the energy that’s moving our economy and environment forward.

Delivered ahead of the Post-Gazette’s latest deeply biased, misleading “Human Toll” series (Click here for our latest fact check, “Post-Gazette Continues to Peddle Junk Science”), the organizations detailed the objective, science-based evidence that reflects the well-understood fact that natural gas development and strong environmental and public health protection are not mutually exclusive.

Particularly on matters involving public health, a strong combination of unbiased science, robust research, active air and water monitoring, and health surveillance data trends demonstrate that natural gas development is well-regulated, well-managed, and conducted in a responsible way….

Like virtually all industries, we recognize there are risks associated with natural gas development – and continue to work with all stakeholders, including regulators, to ensure these risks are effectively managed.

We constantly strive to improve operations, become more efficient, and deploy the latest technology that allows us to continue safely unlocking more of America’s natural gas that is demonstrably improving our environment and the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

As evidence of the commitment to environmental protection, unconventional operators demonstrated a 98.3 percent regulatory compliance rate last year, following a record 19,617 DEP inspections.

“We have very good oil and gas regulations,” DEP Sec. Patrick McDonnell confirmed last year, and reinforced the fact that Pennsylvania has “some of the most protective regulations in the nation [that] ensure safe development of this important resource.”

To read the full letter to Governor Wolf, click here, and see below for reporting in Capitolwire and Pennsylvania Business Report.

PA natural gas industry continues to push back on what they call ‘shoddy and flawed’ claims of public health impacts.

Three associations representing the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania on Tuesday sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf to present their side in an ongoing dispute over what they characterize as “shoddy and flawed” claims that natural gas drilling is causing serious public health problems.

Those claims – and a June 17 letter from hundreds of organizations and individuals calling for an investigation based on those claims – prompted Wolf last month to ask the state Department of Health to “assess the best ways to spur additional academic, science-based study of potential public health impacts from oil and gas development.” At the time, both Wolf and state Health Secretary Rachel Levine said that to this point there’s no evidence showing a link between natural gas production and the claimed health impacts; however, they both indicated the need to continue to gather information.

While the natural gas industry representatives in their July 23 letter to Wolf stated they welcome the effort to provide more “objective, science-based evidence” regarding natural gas development, they also wanted to continue to identify “inaccurate reporting” that lacks “the important fact-based information required to make science-led and weight-of-evidence determinations for causality.” (July 25, 2019)

Groups reaffirm commitment to public health, safety in Pennsylvania

By Debra Flax | July 25, 2019

  • “We have no higher responsibility than the protection and improvement of our environment and the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.”

In a letter sent to Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday, the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pa., Marcellus Shale Coalition, and Pa. Independent Oil & Gas Association presented science-based evidence that the groups said reflect the oil and natural gas industry’s commitment to preserving the environment, public health, and safety of Pennsylvania communities.

“We constantly strive to improve operations, become more efficient, and deploy the latest technology that allows us to continue safely unlocking more of America’s natural gas that is demonstrably improving our environment and the quality of life,” the letter stated. “We have no higher responsibility than the protection and improvement of our environment and the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.”

Among the research detailed in the letter was the DEP’s long-term ambient air monitoring project of facilities in Washington County. Released in 2018, the research found “few health risks,” and specifically noted that there was “little risk of healthy residents getting sick from breathing air nearby.” Air monitoring results from a 2015 Drexel University came to similar conclusions, according to the letter.

In addition, in June 2019, the DOH, in accordance with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, released a comprehensive systematic review of existing epidemiologic literature. Through their review, the departments found that the majority of studies claiming to link health impacts to oil and gas development were rated “low certainty,” limited in study design, and had either conflicting, insufficient, or a total lack of evidence.

Other findings offered in the letter showed that asthma hospitalization rates in counties with the most shale wells decreased as shale development significantly increased, according to state health data. Further, a report funded by the Heinz Endowments that attempted to link natural gas development to low-infant birth weights yielded evidence that was “not rigorous enough to generate firm, action- guiding scientific conclusions,” according to the Magee Women’s Research Institute.

“Objective, science-based evidence reflects the well-understood fact that natural gas development and strong environmental and public health protection are not mutually exclusive,” the letter stated, acknowledging the possibility for risk within any industry. “Like virtually all industries, we recognize there are risks associated with natural gas development – and continue to work with all stakeholders, including regulators, to ensure these risks are effectively managed.”