Anti-Fracking Activists ‘March on Science’; EID Compiles Peer-Reviewed Research on Fracking and Health

With anti-fossil fuel activists across the country set to celebrate Earth Day by “marching for science,” Energy In Depth released a new compendium and a new health microsite highlighting peer-reviewed research and studies by government agencies examining the health impacts of fracking.

Sponsors and partners of the march include anti-fracking groups, such as 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Union of Concerned Scientists, and NextGen Climate America, and the march will be taking place all over the country, including the West.

“Ban fracking” groups in Colorado, including Food & Water Watch (F&WW), 350 Colorado, F&WW-affiliate Frack Free Colorado, and Be The Change are planning to “march together to share our unified voices against fracking.” In the event invitation for the Denver march, the groups fault Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) for not “accepting the science behind fracking’s impacts to our health, air, water and climate.”

The event invitation for an anti-fracking “march for science” organized by groups opposed to oil and natural gas development, urging followers to “share with your anti-fracking family, friends and neighbors” to “make this an anti-fracking contingency [sic] that can not [sic] be ignored.” Source: Facebook.

The “some pretty fantastic art last night in preparation for the upcoming March for Science,” Food & Water Watch’s Colorado chapter wrote on Facebook this morning. Source: Food & Water Watch.

So-called “science”oftentimes debunked research alleging health impacts associated with oil and natural gas development – has been frequently used by activists to support their “ban fracking” initiatives at protests, rallies, town hall meetings, and city council hearings across the state.

Energy In Depth (EID) has taken the charge in pointing out the use of flawed research in the “ban fracking” campaign here in the state on an case-by-case basis – see EID’s recent coverage of controversial researcher Lisa McKenzie’s latest study here. But to make authoritative research on shale development and public health more easily accessible, EID developed a new compendium that includes data from 23 peer-reviewed studies, 17 government health and regulatory agencies, and reports from 10 research institutions – all housed on EID’s new one-stop-shop health microsite, EIDHealth.org.

The research by regulatory agencies in top oil- and gas-producing states includes Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s latest health assessment that determined that “the risk of harmful health effects is low for residents living [near] oil and gas operations,” as well as reports by agencies in Utah and Wyoming.

Collectively, the research included in the compendium demonstrates:

  • Increased natural gas use — thanks to hydraulic fracturing — has led to dramatic declines in air pollution. The United States is the number one oil and gas producer in the world and it has some of the lowest death rates from air pollution. Numerous studies have shown that pollution has plummeted as natural gas production has soared.
  • Emissions from well sites and associated infrastructure are below thresholds regulatory authorities consider to be a threat to public health – that’s the conclusion of multiple studies using air monitors that measure emissions directly.
  • There is no credible evidence that fracking causes or exacerbates asthma. In fact, asthma rates and asthma hospitalizations across the United States have declined as natural gas production has ramped up.
  • There is no credible evidence that fracking causes cancer. Studies that have measured emissions at fracking sites have found emissions are below the threshold that would be harmful to public health.
  • There is no credible evidence that fracking leads to adverse birth outcomes. In fact, adverse birth outcomes have decreased while life expectancy has increased in areas that are ramping up natural gas use.
  • Fracking is not a credible threat to groundwater. Study after study has shown that there are no widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water form hydraulic fracturing.

Ever since the first well was drilled decades ago, the oil and natural gas industry has used science, data, and research to make its operations safer and cleaner. EID supports the continued use of science to improve development, and we support fact-based dialogue about operations in the state. But we oppose efforts by activist groups to exaggerate the risks of development and intentionally mislead people through fearmongering and hyperbolic theatrics in order to advance their national “ban fracking” agenda. Just as local communities, business leaders, and local elected officials have repeatedly made clear that anti-energy campaigns have no place in Colorado, manufactured fears and unfounded claims have no place in the debate about our nation’s energy future.

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