For Immediate Release
On June 19, Governor Wolf released a letter in response to calls to investigate the childhood cancer cases in southwestern Pennsylvania. The administration indicated that it will continue to monitor the situation, taking no real action despite the cancer crisis in the most heavily fracked parts of the state. The administration says that it will “continue to research and study the evidence” about the broader public health effects of fracking, which it claims are thus far “inconclusive.”
The following statement from Karen Feridun, co-founder of the Better Path Coalition, represents the response from the groups that coordinated the letter to Wolf:
“Governor Wolf’s response to the rising numbers of rare childhood cancers in southwestern Pennsylvania is profoundly disappointing, as is his continued unwillingness to accept the science that shows the harms of fracking. Governor Wolf does not need to wait for more proof that fracking is a threat to our health and safety. He needs to take responsibility for the urgent childhood cancer crisis.
“The enormous body of scientific evidence demonstrating public health harms from drilling and fracking is not inconclusive, as detailed in the comprehensive compendium of scientific evidence that scientists and doctors just delivered to Governor Wolf’s office. Analyzing 1,500 studies and investigative reports on unconventional oil and gas development, the compendium concludes: ‘Across a wide range of parameters, from air and water pollution to radioactivity to social disruption to greenhouse gas emissions, the data continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems and harms that cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks. There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends.’ The compendium notes that 84 percent of the original research studies between 2009 to 2015 found signs of harm or potential harm to human health; for studies between 2016 and 2018, that figure was just over 90 percent.
“Behind every data point is a real person, and at least 67 young people in the four counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with cancer. Thirteen young people have already died. We call on Governor Wolf to solicit an independent, extensive investigation of the rare childhood cancer crisis happening right now in our state, and to implement a moratorium on fracking while that investigation commences. Furthermore, this is an urgent public health crisis that demands the governor’s fullest attention, and we call on Governor Wolf, along with Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, to come meet personally with community members affected by fracking in southwestern Pennsylvania.”