I have been concerned about shale-gas drilling for a little over four and a half years now, and now as then, one of my chief concerns is the health impacts associated with shale-gas drilling. Impacts such as, but certainly not limited to:
- Study finds those living near shale wells more likely to be hospitalized -- University of PA and Columbia University, July 15, 2015.
- PA study links fracking to health hazards in fetuses, infants and young children -- Radiation and Public Health Project, July 26, 2015.
- Fracking industry wells associated with premature birth -- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Oct. 8, 2015.
Gentlemen, these are not random, isolated reports, but rather part of a growing body of scientific research pointing toward the adverse health effects of shale-gas drilling. In the press release for the aforementioned Johns Hopkins study, lead researcher Dr. Brian Schwarz, MD, states: “The first studies have all shown health impacts. Policymakers need to consider findings like these in thinking about how they allow this industry to go forward.”
Gentlemen, you are the policymakers for Butler Twp. Later on tonight you will be voting on an amended zoning ordinance that in part will determine where shale-gas well pads may be placed in relation to the township's residential neighborhoods. The current "drill-anywhere" ordinance offers little if any protections to the thousands of township residents who live in our residential neighborhoods. The amended ordinance, while not perfect, goes a long way toward providing those kinds of basic protections which residents have come to expect from zoning laws. Perhaps more importantly, it would keep health-and-safety nightmares like the Krendale well pad from forced approval.
The PA Municipal Planning Code states that the primary purpose of zoning is to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. As I mentioned earlier, you are the policymakers for the township. If you do not take into consideration the mounting scientific evidence of health impacts associated with shale-gas drilling as you decide where this activity should take place in the township, that would be, quite frankly, unconscionable.
So please consider the health, safety and welfare of township residents tonight and vote to approve the amended drilling ordinance.