HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says his administration will spend $3 million to explore the potential health impacts of the natural gas industry.
These planned studies come on the heels of the families of young adults stricken by Ewing sarcoma petitioning the state for a study of the potential health impacts of shale gas drilling.
“This is something we need to do,” Gov. Wolf said. “We need to understand the science. We need to make sure that if there’s something we need to do differently, if there’s something we can learn, let’s learn that.”
Janice Blanock’s son, Luke, succumbed to Ewing sarcoma three years ago, and she’s been fighting for this kind of study ever since.
In the past 10 years, six students in the Canon-McMillan School District have contracted the rare cancer. Three, including Luke, have died.
Their families have long suspected drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
“I think a lot of people in this area are extremely pleased with this decision to move forward and do an investigation, and I think a lot of families will give answers and maybe closure,” Janice Blanock said.
While the shale gas industry denies such a link, three gas industry groups — the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the American Petroleum Institute and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil Gas Association — issued a statement of support for the study.
“The concerns in these communities are shared with our industry. We live here too and have no higher priority than protecting and ensuring the health and safety of our communities, especially our kids and grandkids,” the statement said.
And while the families have also called for a moratorium on fracking, the governor a support of the industry says the drilling will continue.
Sheehan: You don’t believe that fracking is the cause of these cancers?
Wolf: I don’t but that’s what we want to find out. We want to make sure that if there’s something in this process that is linked to this, we need to know that.”