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Doctors call for ban on fracking until further research is conducted


(NaturalNews) Pennsylvania is ground zero for natural gas "fracking," a controversial energy extraction method that involves blasting chemicals into the ground to break up shale rock and release gas resources. But the Pennsylvania Medical Society recently came out in opposition to the destructive practice, voting unanimously to propose an immediate moratorium on fracking until its environmental and public health consequences are fully determined.

At the 16,000-member society's recent annual meeting, the 300 members of its House of Delegates resoundingly called on the state to disallow fracking, proposing the establishment of an independent health registry to begin tracking the long-term impacts of fracking, primarily as it pertains to public health. Increasing evidence shows that fracking is producing more damage than benefits, at least as far as people and the environment are concerned.

The resolution's author and former American Public Health Association president, Dr. Walter Tsou, reiterated the dangers associated with fracking, noting that the technique is actually much more problematic than previously believed. He referred to fracking as causing "increasing deleterious effects" that outweigh "any economic benefit," and says a meeting is already set up to determine how to get the state legislature, the Department of Health and Governor Tom Wolf to advance a moratorium.

"We do support a moratorium at this point because of questions that have been raised," Charles Cutler, a doctor of internal medicine in Montgomery County, and newly elected president of the society, told the Post-Gazette. "Those questions now point to the need for a registry and more science and research to give us a better understanding about whether fracking is safe and what the risk is."

Pennsylvania lawmakers dig in heels to defend fracking

But the medical society is expected to meet considerable opposition next month, as Pennsylvania lawmakers have repeatedly indicated that they aren't too keen on halting what amounts to an economic cash cow for the state. Speaking on behalf of Gov. Wolf, spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan told the public that natural gas is essential to the state's interests, and defended its continued extraction as both safe for the public and protective of the environment.

"The governor understands the importance of the natural gas industry and he wants the industry to succeed while protecting the health of our residents and our environment," Sheridan said. "The governor will continue to find ways to support the industry while ensuring we are protecting the environment and the health of Pennsylvania residents."

If this were true, though, then lawmakers would have no problem setting up a health registry to compile concrete data on how fracking is affecting the state. It's one thing to claim that fracking is all sunshine and rainbows, but it's another to actually prove it – and thus far, those sitting in Pennsylvania's state government have offered nothing in the form of proof to back their claims.

On the contrary, independent science shows that fracking is a societal menace. A recent study by the Yale School of Public Health found that numerous carcinogenic substances are used in the fracking process, and that these substances are getting into the air and water, increasing children's risk of developing serious cancers like leukemia.

Proponents of fracking have quoted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has indicated its belief that fracking has been a "game changer" in reducing the types of environmental pollution that are destroying water supplies, food crops and public health.

However, as noted in a statement by the group, "Protect Pennsylvania," which stands in support of a ban, "Pennsylvania has invested heavily into shale gas drilling, but in-state health studies have demonstrated worsening asthma, premature births, neurological and mental symptoms, and other adverse effects."

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