FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 16, 2020


Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726,

 Tammy Murphy, PSR Pennsylvania, 215.749.0960,

Advocates Call for Transparency and Public Engagement as DOH Explores Fracking’s Health Impacts

Groups Call for Town Hall and Meeting with Public Health Organizations


Today, a group of public health and environmental advocates submitted a letter to Secretary Rachel Levine, calling on her to participate in a town hall on the studies on the health impacts of fracking Governor Tom Wolf announced in November. Additionally, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania and the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project have requested a meeting with Secretary Levine.


The organizations that submitted the letter are the same groups that coordinated the letter to Governor Wolf last June that called for an investigation into the spike in rare cancers diagnosed in young people in four counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. 


“Parents and families, and their doctors, are anxiously waiting for answers about whether something in the environment is associated with an alarming number of rare childhood cancers, including Ewing sarcoma, in heavily fracked counties of southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Ned Ketyer, pediatrician with Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania and Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. “We wish to work with PA-DOH Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, and her staff to ensure their planned investigation is thorough and transparent, and completed in a timely manner.”


“The forum at Canon-McMillan last October left the public with more questions than answers. They are questions that can’t wait and, in some cases, may never be answered by studies. Concerned community members and advocates deserve a chance to have their questions addressed by Secretary Levine directly. We urge her to agree to participate in a forum we will organize and facilitate,” said Karen Feridun, Co-founder of the Better Path Coalition.


“We appreciate that the administration is taking this first, vital step toward protecting public health by committing to conduct two investigations into the relationship between shale gas development and the health effects residents are experiencing,” said Sarah Rankin, public health nurse for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project. “As a public health organization with a long history of community engagement in the region, we invite Dr. Levine to meet with us and Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania to discuss her plan for keeping local communities informed and protected from exposure while the investigations are ongoing. Our communities, our families, and our children deserve no less.”


“There is no question that fracking is a threat to our drinking water, our air, and to the health and safety of people whose communities have been turned into sacrifice zones,” said Megan McDonough, Pennsylvania Organizing Manager for Food & Water Action. “In November, the governor told suffering families that his administration wanted to do more research on the rising number of cancers in heavily fracked communities—but he has taken no action since then. Two months later, parents, families, and their doctors, are still waiting to hear details of the planned studies. With the health and safety of our children on the line, we cannot wait another 3 years for answers.”


Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania explains,"There should be an independent study process overview to ensure independent, objective advice throughout the entire process from selection of researchers to response to peer reviewed publication. The study should welcome healthcare providers and public health experts, whose input should complement the concerns of the community most directly impacted. Community input is integral to understanding pathways to exposure and members of the community who have signed non-disclosure agreements must be released from any penalties for sharing relevant health information with the independent academic researchers.  All aspects of the UGD industry that may be part of the possible pathway to exposure must be included in the study. We acknowledge that a large body of literature that already exists on the health harms of shale gas development. The “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction)” is a compilation of investigative reports, government assessments, and roughly 1,500 peer-reviewed research articles, which concluded fracking cannot be done without risking harm to human health. There should be a moratorium to ensure that no further harm is done.  We urge the governor to hold the shale gas industry accountable for health impacts, and to have all state and local municipalities abide by the precautionary principle as a measure of protection to Pennsylvania residents until the results of the studies are revealed." 






Contact: Karen Feridun, Better Path Coalition, 610-678-7726,


DEP Fine on ETC Is Cold Comfort

Statement from the Better Path Coalition



Pennsylvanians jaded by the Department of Environmental Protection’s poor track record for holding polluters to account will be unmoved by the agency’s historic fine on ETC, the company that has laid waste to communities across the Commonwealth. Instead, they will shudder at the thought that the company will be able once again to get permits for its projects. Secretary Patrick McDonnell stated that the company has demonstrated its intention to correct its unlawful conduct to DEP’s satisfaction. Unfortunately, that is not a high bar in a state where families whose wells have been contaminated as a result of drilling activities are left to their own devices to find replacement water, where a previously ‘historic’ fine against Range Resources was reversed by the agency without explanation, and where the unfolding climate crisis, the ultimate crime against nature, has not dampened our regulators’ zeal to enable continued greenhouse gas development. DEP’s action is an inauspicious start to the last decade we have left to avoid climate disaster.



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