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Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

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Department of the Interior proposes new rules to limit methane leakage on federal lands

January 22, 2016

Physicians for Social Responsibility applauds the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed new rules to minimize natural gas waste and emissions on federal and tribal lands.

The health risks of climate change and the pollution from leaking, venting and flaring natural gas and toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC's) are huge. "BLM is taking an important first step in regulating the increasing levels of methane that are being emitted from hydraulic fracturing", said Catherine Thomasson, MD executive director of PSR.

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, 84 times that of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years. We are seeing the health impacts of runaway climate change with increasing flooding, sea level rise, heat and drought. 

The U.S. is now the greatest producer of natural gas in the world, reducing prices here and driving the rush for export. Thus there is no incentive to capture the methane at the production site or when fracking is done for oil. The concern though is that with so much leakage even with regulations that burning natural gas for electricity may be as bad as coal. According to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, there was enough leaked methane from 2009-2014 to heat 5 million homes.

While this is laudatory, oil and gas production on federal and tribal lands only accounts for 15% of total U.S. methane emissions overall, according to an analysis by ICF International. In addition, these regulations only limit leaks by about 50 percent. 

PSR calls for regulation at all well sites and for transmission and storage facilities. All fossil fuels contribute to climate change. The sooner we move to renewable energy and reduce usage through energy efficiency measures the safer we will be from climate change.

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Resources

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    PSR and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)'s new report examines the public health benefits and medical cost savings of cutting annual electric consumption by 15 percent. Read more »

  • Natural Gas Health Impacts Symposium

    PSR is proud to have participated in "Natural Gas Infrastructure and Public Health," a high-powered conference in Boston that brought together university researchers, public health departments and concerned citizens. Watch Environment & Health Director Barbara Gottlieb's overview presentation here, timestamp 11:10 - 46:05. Read more »

  • Fracking Compendium 5 Water Excerpt

    Given the timely and important consideration of the issue by state officials in Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with Concerned Health Professionals of New York, has released excerpts from the upcoming Fifth Edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking. Released in Miami in advance of the full report, this new document contains an up-to-date analysis and compilation of the science on water contamination risks from drilling, fracking, and associated activities. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • March 3, 2018
    WPSR Annual Dinner and Fundraiser
    Join Washington PSR for a reception, a delicious meal, keynote address by David Korten, presentation of the 2018 Paul Beeson and Malcolm Peterson awards, and a live auction.