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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.

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A Wealth of Scientific Resources on Hydraulic Fracturing

By Seth B. Shonkoff, PhD, MPH

Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) is dedicated to supplying sound, evidence-based, scientific information and resources on energy policy choices including those involving shale gas and tight oil development (i.e. hydraulic fracturing) and the transition to renewable energy portfolios. PSE's mission is to bring scientific transparency to important energy policy issues surrounding such methods, helping to level the playing field for citizens, advocacy groups, the media, policymakers, and politicians. PSE is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of physicians, scientists and engineers, many of whom are affiliated with major research universities.  We have offices in Ithaca, NY, New York City, NY, and Berkeley, CA and have affiliates throughout the United States and the European Union. 

The PSE team communicates peer-reviewed science and public health research to a wide audience of people working to ensure better energy policy decisions. PSE asserts that policy issues are largely determined and effected by the scientific community, the media, advocacy groups, and other members of the public that push policy makers to make more informed decisions.  Thus, we engage with all of these communities in order to bring the best, most up-to-date scientific information to where energy policy decisions are deliberated and made.

We approach our work with a three-pronged strategy:

  1. We Generate research that fills critical information gaps, 
  2. We Translate the state of the science on energy development processes into forms that are easily integrated into the platforms of policy makers, advocates, and the scientific community
  3. We Disseminate this translated science to where energy decisions are made.

In turn, our activities are varied and far-reaching.  Some examples of what we do are as follows:

  • Present to groups on the public health, climate, environmental, and technological dimensions of energy choices, especially oil and gas production using hydraulic fracturing.
  • Answer technical questions about energy choices, policies, and regulations internationally.
  • Interact with the media through interviews, op-eds, teleconferences, and press releases.
  • Engage in strategic planning with energy policy-focused organizations to help to bolster their activities with sound, understandable, and useful science.
  • Provide oral and written testimony to state assemblies and legislative bodies.
  • Publish peer-reviewed studies and commentaries on novel energy production.
  • Write public letters to government officials on policy and the state of science surrounding energy decisions.

PSE Scientific Resources

In order to provide the most transparent and rigorous scientific information to constituents involved in energy policy decision-making efforts, we provide a well-organized, deep body of scientific resources for public consumption on our website in the form of a peer-reviewed literature library.  This library is kept up-to-date in order to serve as a resource to anybody who wishes to become better informed on cutting-edge science.  Each library resource is accompanied with descriptions of its main findings in order to facilitate comprehension of the science for our visitors.

We also further translate the science surrounding high-volume hydraulic fracturing and shale gas and tight oil development into science summaries, which are in the form of tri-fold pamphlets that rapidly convey the most current and salient scientific information on environmental, public health and climate dimensions of shale gas and tight oil development.

Another resource to educate the public and medical professionals about the health dimensions of shale gas development with high-volume hydraulic fracturing is our Continuing Medical Education Program (CME), which can also be accessed on YouTube.  Every medical professional is mandated to earn a certain number of continuing medical education credits per year.  PSE, along with the Medical Society of the State of New York, became accredited to issue CME modules that participants can watch for credit.  This program not only provides education for the medical community, but also serves as a resource to anyone who wants more scientific information on the health dimensions of shale gas and tight oil development.

Responsible Energy Policy Development: Looking forward

Few argue against the fact that scientific information is a vital component of responsible policy- making, yet it is apparent that science is increasingly not taken into consideration or fully understood by those who deliberate energy policy decisions. 

There are three reasons why science is marginalized in the process of policy decision-making:

  1. The science in its current form is not perceived as comprehensive and relevant; 
  2. The science is unfamiliar to policymakers;
  3. The science is not available to channels involved in the deliberation of policy choices. 

Policymakers are not scientists; they are not trained to understand science and often do not make science-bolstered decisions unless others convince them to do so.  PSE understands that policy is not created by policymakers alone, but rather by a broader network of actors and interests including industry, advocates, academics, and the media.  We work to ensure that these broader sectors have access to understandable scientific resources in order to make more environmentally sound and health-protective decisions.

Science only helps to ensure better policy decisions when it is available to and in formats that are recognizable and understood by those that work on these issues.  PSE works to ensure that these criteria are met in order to support more sustainable and healthy energy choices now and into the future.

Comments

judi said ..

Our representatives aren't concerned with the long-term effects...as more and more imported food is sold in this country the replacement of our farming infastructure with profit-raising foreign sources appears to be a priority. As for water, that can be imported also and the CEO of Nestle has stated that water should be a commodity and that no one should expect water to be Free and that likewise that access to water shouldn't be considered a Human Right. That pretty much sums up the .1%s views on water. Check up on all the brands of water that Nestle has bought-up and now currently sells...revealing of their future plans!

January 8, 2014
David Khan said ..

Thank for sharing.

November 9, 2013
Grant Este said ..

The problem with good science is that it takes time and money. The organizations doing the Fracking are racing against the clock. They know that when all the repercussions are understood this approach to energy extraction will be halted or severely limited due to the environmental effects. In light of the extensive fracking that has already been done I think a hold should be put in place until a thorough scientific evaluation of the consequences can be completed.

November 2, 2013
Karen Glaub said ..

I agree with Janet. A bi-partisan group of people in Congress need to appoint a special committee of scientists to come up with regulations which require the companies doing it to tell what chemicals are being used and monitor the air around the sites.

August 23, 2013
Silvia said ..

Health before wealth - this is going to have a devastating effect on our health, not to include our earth. We are taking a natural resource, but unable to return it because it is so contaminated? This doesn't make sense, our earth will fight back, as it is now.

August 16, 2013
Patricia McAuliffe said ..

In West Australia massive exploration for Shale gas is in progress. We have little research available here, so your excellent up to date research will be invaluable in trying to halt the frenzy. Thankyou

August 15, 2013
Chuck H-M said ..

A hold needs to be placed on further fracking until existing information is allowed to be presented to the scientific community, the public, and the its health costs weighed with the benefits. The oil companies are looking only at the bottom line next quarter and could care less about what it does to our health, or the long term effects on our biosphere.

August 9, 2013
Janet said ..

If congress does not investigate before approving fracturing, the health of perhaps millions of people will be affected. From infected water to our crops and our live stock to us.

August 8, 2013

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