threatened to sue the state if DEC doesn't hurry up and release the SGEIS to allow drilling - and fracking - in New York. This was in response to DEC chief Joseph Martens' comment a couple days earlier that the state had no plans to issue permits for fracking. DEC is waiting for Dr. Shah to complete the health impact review.
While the delay irks some landowners, many others appreciate the extra time, as new findings continue to come in regarding water, air and health impacts related to gas drilling.
On the same day the landowners emailed and Fed-Exxed their demands to permit fracking, Colorado researchers released their findings that show that babies born near gas wells have increased rates for certain birth defects.
The new study shows that women living near gas wells in rural Colorado are more likely to have babies with neural tube and congenital heart defects. These findings add to the already growing concern about health impacts from air pollution at drilling sites, compressor stations and other infrastructure.
Lisa McKenzie and her research team from the Colorado School of Public Health analyzed birth defects among nearly 125,000 births in rural Colorado. They chose towns with fewer than 50,000 residents and examined records from 1996 - 2009, paying particular attention to how close the mothers lived to gas wells.
What they found: babies born to mothers who lived in areas with the highest density of wells (more than 125 wells/ mile) were more than twice as likely to have neural tube defects as babies born to mothers living at least 10 miles away from gas wells. Babies in the high-well density zone also had a 38 percent greater risk of congenital heart defects as children born in areas with no wells.
"Taken together, our results and current trend in natural gas development underscore the importance of conducting more comprehensive and rigorous research on the potential health effects of natural gas development," McKenzie et al wrote in their article published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. The researchers admit that their study was limited in that they didn't have access to the mothers' health information, socioeconomic information, or actual exposures to air pollutants. They also knew only if a gas well existed in the year of the births - not how active it was - and they assumed that the address of the mother at time of birth was the same as during her first trimester.
Given that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission estimates that 26 percent of wells in Colorado are located within 150 to 1,000 feet of homes, these findings offer yet one more reason for DEC to overhaul - or withdraw - their proposed fracking regulations.