Pennsylvania legislator proposes advisory panel to examine health impacts of gas drilling
A Jefferson County Republican wants to set up an advisory panel to examine health issues related to Marcellus shale natural gas drilling.
Sen. Joe Scarnati is sponsoring a bill that would form a 13-member panel chaired by the secretary of the Department of Health.
The Health Advisory Panel on Shale Gas Extraction would look at potential public health impacts from drilling, along with potential health benefits from natural gas use. The members wouldn't be paid for their two-year terms, and it's not clear how much funding would be needed for the proposal.
Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, said he supports the proposal.
Patrick Henderson, Gov. Tom Corbett's energy executive, wrote in an email that the administration looks forward to working with Scarnati on the legislation, and shares “his interest in ensuring that drilling activities are conducted in a manner that protects public health.”
Scarnati said that comment is open to interpretation.
“I don't think that they have signaled clear support at this time,” he said of Corbett's administration, adding that it wants to make sure the legislation is “done right.”
Scarnati said having a well-rounded state panel “makes a lot of sense” for the public and the industry.
Last year, Pennsylvania lawmakers eliminated $2 million of funding for a statewide health registry to track respiratory problems, skin conditions, stomach ailments and other illnesses potentially related to gas drilling. Goldstein and other health experts had criticized that failure to support research.
Natural gas production has boomed in Pennsylvania and other states over the past few years as advances in drilling opened up vast reserves buried in deep shale rock.
The Obama administration and many state officials say gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is safe when done properly, but some critics dispute that. Officials in New York have placed a five-year moratorium on drilling while they study potential impacts on human health and the environment.
Scarnati's bill suggests that the proposed panel would meet at least twice a year to review health data and scientific studies. The panel would submit an annual report and provide elected officials and the public with information on gas drilling.
The bill is in committee, so it could change substantially or not become law at all this year.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Consol Energy cutting retiree health benefits, phasing out pension
- Highmark to increase premiums, limit access to health care in new plans
- Coca-Cola shaves incentives for executives
- Oil, gas industry boom leads to expansion of laws in Pennsylvania
- Hospitals, doctors in Pa. received $32M in 5 months from drug, medical device companies
- Roundup: Pittsburgh Corning plan confirmed; II-VI reorganizes segments; more
- Google Pittsburgh instrumental in fight against hackers, co-directors say
- Canadian company wins bid for casino
- Bond experts fear inevitable sell-off
- EPA says greenhouse gas releases from wells, pipelines decline
- New models, China sales key to GM’s future, Barra tells investors