7 Questions You Should Ask Every Candidate about Shale Gas Development and Public Health
If you’re like most people, you want to be healthy. You want pure drinking water and clean air. You want rivers, streams, and oceans that are not polluted. You want healthy families and children. Well, your environment impacts all these health factors.
Election Day 2022 is approaching us. Like every election, this one matters. The reality is that your vote helps shape the policies that impact both your life and the lives of the people and communities you love and value. On November 8, electors will vote on governors and U.S. senators and representatives as well as many other key federal, statewide, and local officials. Read on to see how you can be better prepared to vote for candidates committed to defending public health in the face of shale gas development.
What is shale gas development and why does it matter?
Shale gas development (also known as “unconventional gas development,” “hydraulic fracturing,” or “fracking”) is a method of removing and processing fossil gas from shale formations. This relatively new technology introduces horizontal drilling to the process and features high-pressure water mixed with chemicals and fine sand to fracture the rock and unlock previously inaccessible gas (largely methane). Shale gas development comprises other operational stages, including flaring gases, eliminating wastewater, transporting gas through pipelines dotted with compressor stations, and separating out usable components at processing plants.
Shale gas development directly impacts the quality of life of you and the people and communities that you love and care about. Peer-reviewed studies indicate a range of adverse health impacts that increase with proximity to shale gas facilities. The studied impacts include:
Asthma and upper and lower respiratory complaints
Hospitalizations for heart failure and mortality from heart attacks
Low birth weights, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and infant mortality
Congenital heart defects and neural tube defects
Headaches, fatigue, and skin rashes
Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms
Now is the time to ask candidates about their positions on shale gas development and public health. You can reach out to incumbents as well as their opposition via the following methods:
Candidate web pages
Elected officials’ official government websites
Directory to find congressional representatives: https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member
Directories that list your state representatives. In Pennsylvania, see: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/
Submit questions for inclusion in candidate forums/questionnaires (both virtual or in person)
Tweet at a candidate
You can call, write a formal letter, or send an email. Be sure to indicate that you live in the individual’s district or potential district. Also, include a means for the office to respond to your issues and concerns.
What questions should you be asking candidates about shale gas development and public health?
What is your position on shale gas development?
How will you improve the current laws, policies, and regulations to ensure the safest environmental and public health practices?
How will you improve the water, air, and health in communities that are located near polluting sites such as shale gas development?
What is your position on setbacks (distances between shale gas facilities and homes, schools, and businesses) and why?
How will you incorporate current public health data and research in your decision making around shale gas development?
How will you ensure consistent and accurate monitoring of shale gas development sites and reporting to communities, and what remediation do you propose when there are health, environmental, or safety breaches?
How do you plan to address the negative environmental and health aspects of blue hydrogen (what the SGD industry now calls “clean hydrogen”) development?
Have my questions been answered?
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that candidates can be good at evading