Thousands of Pennsylvania residents attend school or receive health care within one mile of a permitted natural gas fracking well site, according to a report released Tuesday.
The report from the Penn Environment Research & Policy Center, titled “Dangerous and Close” revealed there are 166 schools, 165 child care providers, 21 nursing care providers and six hospitals within that radius.
“Children should not live near and play in the shadow of dangerous fracking,” Zoë Cina-Sklar, PennEnvironment campaign organizer, said at the press conference in Scranton.
PennEnvironment, an environmental advocacy organization based in Philadelphia, held the press conference on the sidewalk outside the Commonwealth Medical College, but the school has no affiliation with the group or the study.
–53,000 Pennsylvania children under the age of 10, and 41,000 seniors 75 years of age and older live within one mile of a permitted fracking well site.
–More than 220 violations of environmental and public health regulations have occurred at wells within one mile of a school, while 180 violations have occurred within one mile of a childcare provider.
In response to the report, several groups have formed a new coalition, Pennsylvania Health Professionals for a Livable Future, to “bring the expertise of Pennsylvania’s health community to this discussion, and promote commonsense policy solutions to address the public health threats posed by fracking.”
The coalition includes the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Penn Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, SEIU Healthcare and Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project.
The coalition is calling for several new regulations, including requiring a minimum setback of one mile for all fracking operations and associated infrastructure relative to schools, childcare providers, hospitals and nursing care facilities. The coalition also wants to create a public health registry for health care professionals and affected individuals to report impacts associated with fracking and other natural gas activities.
Travis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said in a statement that the report is PennEnvironment’s attempt to spread fear and misinformation about “safe, tightly-regulated shale development.”
Pennsylvania’s Act 13 created a special impact tax that’s generated more than $850 million in new revenue and increased setback requirements to 1,000 feet from water wells and 500 feet from structures (i.e., homes, barns, schools), he said.
“And while the state Supreme Court rolled back these enhanced setback requirements, our industry remains committed to adhering to the more stringent setbacks because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “In fact, compared with other energy-producing states, Pennsylvania’s setback requirements are among the nation’s most stringent.”
This article was written by Sarah Hofius Hall from The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.