Updates

We sued polluters breaking the law and won.

When it comes to polluters breaking our cornerstone environmental laws or regulators who aren’t taking the proper steps to make sure polluters comply with these laws, PennEnvironment has long worked to use the power of citizen enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act to address these issues. In 2013, PennEnvironment announced two legal actions to address the lax behavior of polluters and state agencies that caused more air and water pollution in Pennsylvania.

News Release | PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center

Pennsylvania Health Professionals Call for a Stop to Fracking

Philadelphia, PA – PennEnvironment delivered a letter from 85 doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in Pennsylvania to President Obama asserting that fracking should be stopped, given the overwhelming threats to public health. This was part of a nationwide effort by the organization’s federal arm, Environment America to deliver similar letters to decision-makers from more than 1,000 health professionals nationwide.

“Fracking is making people sick—period. Pennsylvania families are already suffering from dangerous air pollution and water contamination caused by dirty drilling,” said Lina Blount, Field Organizer for PennEnvironment. “Pennsylvania doctors and nurses are giving our elected officials a clear prescription to ensure the health of their constituents—stop issuing new permits for fracking until they can ensure these health impacts won’t happen again. The question is are they ready to take the medicine.”

The letters, which include signers from all 50 states, come as public awareness of the health and environmental impacts of fracking is on the rise. In one striking example, last month a peer-reviewed study published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found an increased rate of birth defects in babies born to mothers in Colorado who lived in close proximity to multiple oil and gas wells.

Fracking has spread rapidly across Pennsylvania in the last five years, and its effect on public health and the environment is increasingly taking its toll. There is a growing number of documented cases of individuals suffering acute and chronic health effects while living near fracking operations—including nausea, rashes, dizziness, headaches and nose bleeds. Physicians reviewing medical records in Pennsylvania have called these illnesses “the tip of the iceberg” of fracking impacts on health.

“As a nurse and geologist, I am increasingly concerned with the health and environmental impacts of fracking to Pennsylvania communities.  In following the principal of 'do no harm', it is crucial that our elected leaders hold industries accountable, putting health first,” said Nina Kaktins, RN of 25 years currently at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

PennEnvironment released the letter from health professionals today, as recent disasters, including a gas line rupture under the Raritan River and a well-pad explosion in Dillinger, add to the growing list of gas industry disasters. The industry has also committed more than 4,300 environmental violations in Pennsylvania to date.

Fracking operations have contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. Leaks and spills of fracking fluid, which often contain known carcinogens (e.g. benzene) and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, have polluted rivers and streams. Fracking wastewater—often laced with heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic) and radioactive materials (e.g. radon, uranium)—has leached from hundreds of waste pits into groundwater.

Air contaminants released from fracking operations include volatile organic compounds (VOCs); some are carcinogenic, and some damage the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Public Health found that people living within a half-mile of gas fracking wells had a higher excess lifetime risk of developing cancer than people living farther away.

Despite these impacts, fracking is exempt from key provisions of the nation’s leading public health and environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the law that regulates hazardous waste.

In the letter delivered today, the health professionals call on President Obama and EPA Administrator McCarthy to close the loopholes that exempt fracking from key provisions of our nation’s bedrock environmental and public health laws. Health professionals from Pennsylvania and nationwide are also calling for immediate action for our elected officials to do everything in their power to halt more gas drilling where it’s already happening.

“Fracking is a public health emergency. To protect Pennsylvanians and communities across the country exposed to fracking, President Obama and EPA administrator McCarthy should close the hazardous waste loopholes that allow fracking to threaten our health in ways that no other industry can.” concluded Blount.

 

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PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.

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News Release | PennEnvironment

Philadelphia City Council Commits to Goal of 20,000 Solar Roofs

Today, City Council unanimously passed an ambitious resolution in support of increasing solar power generation within the city of Philadelphia.  The resolution sets a goal of 20,000 solar roofs by 2025, and outlines policies that can be used to reach that target. 

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Report | PennEnvironment

Moving America Forward

American leadership in the fight against global warming is crucial. America is the world’s largest economy, the second-largest emitter of global warming pollution, and the nation responsible for more of the human-caused carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere than any other. Without prompt action by the United States and others to reduce global warming pollution, catastrophic impacts – from coastal flooding to food system disruptions – could become unavoidable.

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News Release | PennEnvironment

Clean Energy is Cutting Carbon, But Pennsylvania Lags

As public concern about extreme weather ramps up, clean energy policies in Pennsylvania and around the nation are proving that we have the tools we need to win the fight against global warming. While Pennsylvania's clean energy policies – like the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard and our state's energy efficiency requirements – are already reducing carbon pollution, there is significant progress to be made compared to other state’s efforts according to a new PennEnvironment report, “Moving America Forward.” 

 

The report can be accessed here

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News Release | PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Global Warming has Winter Games Skating on Thin Ice

Philadelphia, PA  – As the world turns its attention to the Sochi Olympic Games, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center has revealed a summary of global warming’s impacts on Winter Olympic sports, highlighting the need for action to reduce the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change.  Pennsylvania has experienced substantial snowfall this winter, but PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s summary shows an overarching pattern of winters shortening, snow melting faster, and climate change undermining the sports we all celebrate during the Winter Olympics. 

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