“Fracking” bad for health

Altoona Mirror - 4/4/2010

The Food and Drug Administration requires that new pharmaceutical compounds undergo rigorous testing before they go to market.     Environmental agencies didn’t exercise the same kind of rigor before allowing energy firms to extract gas from shale formations 6,000 feet down, using the relatively new method of “fracking” – pumping chemical-laced water under pressure to break the rock and release the gas, said Dan Volz, director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Healthy Environments and Communities.

It all happened too quickly, Volz said.   “What was the rush?” he asked rhetorically.

“You would have thought we would have learned our lesson,” he said, referring to the state’s legacy of pollution problems with coal and other minerals.

Ultimately, it’s a political question, a question of regulation and the will to impose it, Volz said. “In the end, it’s not about science,” he said.

But he’s seen a recent upwelling of “real concern,” as well as fear and outrage – crossing party lines. “The political consequences are starting to fall on good ears,” he said.


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