Medical experts ask Obama to delay fracking expansion

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 24, 2012

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More than 100 health professionals have signed a petition urging the Obama administration to study further the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing before approving a construction project that would expand such production.

The White House is considering fast-tracking the construction of several new liquefied natural gas terminals that would increase exportation of U.S. shale gas. Expediting the permit process for more terminals would trigger a substantial spike in U.S. hydraulic fracturing, said Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy. PSE, a new organization, advocates for more scientific studies on issues surrounding unconventional gas development, such as the process known as fracking. The technique involves drilling and injecting water, sand and chemicals at a high pressure to release natural gas from deep underground rock formations.

Supporters say fracking produces a cleaner energy source, creates jobs and provides an economic benefit to landowners who lease property rights to gas exploration firms. But PSE, which facilitated the December petition, says a growing body of evidence shows that fracking may be associated with adverse health risks through exposure to polluted air, water and soil. The opening of liquefied natural gas export facilities would serve to accelerate fracking in the U.S. in absence of sound scientific assessment, the petition said.

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