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Pennsylvania health care system tried to study shall-gas drilling impact

A major Pennsylvania health-care system invited New York to participate in a long-term, extensive study of shale-gas drilling's human impacts, but a partnership never materialized.

The February 2013 invitation from a Geisinger Health System administrator was among thousands of pages of documents recently released by the state Department of Health regarding its ongoing review of hydraulic fracturing.

The trove of documents includes dozens of outside studies on fracking, as well as some limited correspondence with state officials. In one 2012 letter, New York's top environmental regulator declined a meeting with famed consumer advocate and third-party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

An oil boom is underway at the Eagle Ford Shale in Karnes County, Texas, but the development is diminishing the quality of life of the inhabitants of the rural county and possibly endangering their health, according to reporting by the Center for Public Integrity, InsideClimate News and the Weather Channel.

Residents' complaints are going unaddressed and air quality monitoring is patchy. Though officials have said there is no cause for worry, experts say that the lack of monitoring and research into the health effects of pollutants has resulted in a poor understanding of how oil and gas development impact public health.

Compounding these weaknesses is the political backing of oil interests in the state with many industry regulatory officials doubling as its strongest supporters.

"When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared that a group of Texas homes near a gas-drilling operation didn’t have dangerous levels of methane in their water, it relied on tests conducted by the driller itself," Bloomberg Sustainability reports. Read the full story here.

County officials estimate there’s been a 756 percent increase in the amount of fracking waste brought to Frio County since 2010 and that this year alone will see an estimated 351,720 truck trips because of it.

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