Over Fifty Local Boards Of Health Call On Governor Baker To Require Health Impact Assessments For Gas Pipelines
Boston, MA — 53 local Boards of Health across Massachusetts today urged Governor Charlie Baker to require comprehensive health impact assessments for any new gas infrastructure, to measure the effects on the climate and human health.
In a joint letter, the Boards of Health say that fracked gas infrastructure “increases health disparities, worsens public health, and makes poor use of our health care resources by potentially creating public health problems, instead of preventing them.” Some boards sent personal letters to the governor, citing specific concerns related to their community.
Referencing the large and geographically diverse number of signatories who are deeply concerned about the risks gas infrastructure poses to public health, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, Marcia Benes, noted the documented hazards and potential risks of the production, transmission, and burning of fracked gas.
“Health risks of fracked gas infrastructure include asthma and heart disease from particulate matter, neurologic disease and miscarriage due to heavy metals, and cancer due to carcinogens such as benzene and radioactive radon and lead,” Benes said.
Studies <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5761677/pdf/nihms923954.pdf> have identified toxic and cancer causing substances in fracked gas including benzene, toluene, xylenes, and cyclohexane. Not only is more fracking dangerous for our communities, it is unnecessary. Attorney General Maura Healey has determined that the Commonwealth does not need new pipelines <http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/energy-utilities/reros-study-final.pdf> and should focus instead on cleaner and healthier forms of renewable energy.
The delivery of the letters to Governor Baker follows the recent “Natural Gas Infrastructure and Public Health: From Local to Global<http://www.bu.edu/earth/naturalgaspublichealth/>” conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB), where academic and medical experts convened to discuss the significant health concerns with gas infrastructure.
With utilities still pushing for increased pipeline capacity, Emily Norton, Director of Sierra Club Massachusetts, praised the letter by the Boards of Health: “To invest in gas pipelines now is the wrong direction for jobs, the environment, public health, and for ratepayers. We can’t stand by and allow new pipelines to be built without thoroughly understanding the consequences for our health and our climate.”
The letter to the Governor and the list of local Boards of Health that signed it are here<https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/blog/Final%20BOH%20Letter%20%281%29.pdf>.
Emily Norton, Massachusetts Sierra Club (508) 397-6839
Marcia Benes, Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (508)-643-0234
Every city and town in Massachusetts has a Board of Health responsible for disease prevention and control, health and environmental protection, and promoting a healthy community.
MAHB’s mission is to assist and support boards of health in meeting their statutory and service responsibilities, through programs of education, technical assistance, representation, and resource development.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org<http://www.sierraclub.org>.