In a letter delivered to House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer today, more than 400 scientists and health professionals urged Congress to reject the energy permitting reform bill released yesterday by Senator Joe Manchin. The letter cites grave public health and climate threats associated with the fast-tracking of fossil fuel development that the bill prioritizes.
The letter was written by noted biologist and climate expert Sandra Steingraber, PhD [Science and Environmental Health Network] and circulated in conjunction with Food & Water Watch. Initial signers include noted health and climate experts Peter Kalmus, PhD [UCLA], Robert W. Howarth, PhD [Cornell Univ.], Philip Landrigan, MD [Boston Col.], Farhana Sultana, PhD [Syracuse Univ.], Ted Schettler MD, MPH [Science & Environmental Health Network], Michael E Mann, PhD [Univ. of Penn.], Barbara Sattler, RN, DrPH, FAAN [Univ. of San Fran.], Mark Jacobson, PhD [Sanford Univ.], and Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN [Physicians for Social Responsibility].
The letter states in part:
Fossil fuel projects also carry enormous risks to public health that include not only diverse widespread health impacts from an overheated climate but also direct harm to those living near them. As is now documented in more than 100 studies, public health harms linked to living near oil and gas wells and associated infrastructure include asthma, heart problems, early death, and impairments to infant health… More than 17.6 million U.S. residents live within a mile of an active oil or gas well. These Americans include our patients.
“The climate crisis is a public health crisis, with people living on the frontlines of oil and gas extraction suffering the most. Scientists who document the evidence for harm and health professionals who treat the harm are now speaking out with one voice,” said Sandra Steingraber, PhD, senior scientist at the Science and Environmental Health Network and author of the letter. “We call on House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer to reject Senator Manchin’s dirty deal that will expedite further fossil fuel build-out.”
“Having spent more than 50 years working to protect children against health threats in the environment, I feel compelled to speak out against any political deal that would expose them to decades more pollution from fossil fuels,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, pediatrician and director of the Program for Global Public Health and the Global Observatory on Planetary Health at the Schiller Institute. “Fossil fuel extraction harms prenatal development. Fossil fuel combustion causes prematurity, stillbirth and asthma in children. The single, most effective strategy for protecting our children against these dangers is a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy and away from fossil fuels. The sooner the better.”