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Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility Launches Campaign Against Fracking Industry Secrets

July 9, 2015

For Immediate Release: July 9, 2015
Contact: Tim Whitehouse, T. 240-246-4492, twhitehouse@psr.org

Baltimore, Maryland - Today, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility (Chesapeake PSR) launched a campaign to pressure the oil and gas industry to release important information about the health risks caused by drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

The campaign kicked off with advertisements published today in the Cumberland Times-­‐News and the Oakland Republican in Cumberland, MD, which overlies the Marcellus Shale. The ad links to a petition organized by Chesapeake PSR. The petition asks the American Petroleum Institute (API) and America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), the two largest industry trade associations, to request that its members publicly disclose the number of their non-disclosure agreements, their location, and the reasons for each agreement. The petition also asks API and ANGA to allow those who have been silenced by these agreements to speak publicly about any health-related issues that may have been caused by drilling and fracking.

Non-disclosure agreements are a common tool used by the oil and gas industry to require people to keep quiet about the harm caused by fracking in return for a payment of money. While there are no reliable estimates on the number of these non-disclosure agreements, Bloomberg News reported in 2013 that in “cases from Wyoming to Arkansas, Pennsylvania to Texas, drillers have agreed to cash settlements or property buyouts with people who say hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, ruined their water. In most cases homeowners must agree to keep quiet.”

“The oil and gas industry claims there is no proof that fracking harms human health,” says Tim Whitehouse, Executive Director of Chesapeake PSR, “but it turns out they have worked hard to suppress important information through the use of non-disclosure agreements. The industry can’t have it both ways. It can’t try to come into Maryland claiming that fracking is safe, and then refuse to release basic information on the safety of the industry.”

“We know from direct conversations, both with people living near fracking operations and with health care providers working in those regions, that there are significant adverse health effects from fracking. We also know that people have been silenced by industry, making it impossible to fully document and analyze the nature and extent of the health risks. This must stop. No industry should be permitted to hide its harms from the public,“ says Gina Angiola, M.D., a member of Chesapeake PSR’s Board of Directors. Chesapeake PSR is a Maryland-based chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Chesapeake PSR's membership includes physicians, physician assistants, nurses, other health professionals, and those concerned about the health and well-being of Maryland residents.

Future elements of the campaign will seek to address additional industry obstacles to obtaining important information on the health effects of fracking.

For more information on the Chesapeake PSR’s petition, visit www.chesapeakepsr.org/sign-a-petition

To access the Bloomberg News article, visit http://bloom.bg/1L3qLLT

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