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PSR Position Statement on Hydraulic Fracturing
Adopted by the Board of Directors March 30, 2012
No single solution can meet our society's future energy needs. The answer lies instead in a family of diverse energy technologies that share a common thread. Renewable energy technologies tap into natural cycles and systems, turning the ever-present energy around us into usable forms. Solutions to our future energy needs must not deplete our natural resources, destroy our environment or negatively impact human health. As we transition from our current fossil fuel dependent energy policy the transition is guided by the same principles: Minimize impact on health and the environment in our energy production and use.
In light of these concerns, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is focusing on the multiple threats to human health posed by the technologies and processes associated with hydraulic fracturing, also known as “hydrofracking” or “fracking,” used to extract natural gas and other fossil fuels from underground formations. These threats to health include industrial scale water consumption and contamination; air pollution, particularly by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane; seismic effects, and the generation and management of large quantities of toxic liquid waste. Long-term impacts on freshwater aquifers are a poorly understood potential threat to our limited drinking water supplies that requires a precautionary approach until impacts are known.
PSR supports a precautionary approach that includes a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing until such time as impartial federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develop and implement enforceable rules that provide adequate protection for human health and the environment from fossil fuel extraction processes that use hydraulic fracturing.
In order to achieve such protection, the oil and gas extraction industry must fully disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the amount of waste generated by their operations, and the waste management procedures utilized for disposing of those wastes. Furthermore, industry must promulgate and execute appropriate strategies to manage safely the threats to health that arise in the hydraulic fracturing process. The costs of such health-protective measures are the costs of this business and should not be paid by the general public.
Hope for a Heated Planet
Author Bob Musil, former PSR executive director and now scholar-in-residence at American University, has written an insightful and informative account about the climate change issue and how it has finally emerged in the public’s mind as a major public health concern. Read more »
Extreme Weather Impacts on Public Health
Dr. Catherine Thomasson's presentation at the Woodrow Wilson Center on April 10, 2013 on the effects of climate change. Read more »
Climate Change Flyer
Handout was developed by writer Bruni Estrada and graphic designer Daniel Pizarro, in collaboration with Mathias Pollock, Program Coordinator - Student PSR. To see more of Daniel's graphic design work visit http://www.danielpizarro.info. Read more »
In the Spotlight
September 20, 2013
Conference: Climate Smart Southwest
Build new and fortify existing cross-cultural, community, and governmental partnerships to educate and engage community action to address the anticipated public health impacts of climate change in the Southwest, September 20-21.