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First, Do No Harm:   Get the Health Facts Now Is the Message From Petitioners to Obama

WASHINGTON, D.C.///December 13, 2012///Moving ahead rapidly with plans to approve several new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals would require “a rapid increase in fracking in the United States without credible science” and “could potentially cause undue harm to many Americans,” according to 107 experts who signed on to a petition sent today to the White House.

Facilitated by Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE), the petition is a response to the Obama Administration’s consideration of fast tracking of the permitting process for LNG export terminals that would trigger a substantial spike in the fracking of U.S. shale gas in order to meet foreign energy demands.

Signed by top U.S. medical professionals, researchers, and other scientists, the petition reads in part:  “There is a growing body of evidence that unconventional natural gas extraction from shale (also known as ‘fracking’) may be associated with adverse health risks through exposure to polluted air, water, and soil.  Public health researchers and medical professionals question the continuation of current levels of fracking without a full scientific understanding of the health implications. The opening of LNG export facilities would serve to accelerate fracking in the United States in absence of sound scientific assessment, placing policy before health.”

Seth B. Shonkoff, PhD, MPH, executive director, Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE), and environmental researcher, University of California, Berkeley, said:  “The question here is very simple:  Why would the United States dramatically increase the use of an energy extraction method without first ensuring that the trade-off is not the health of Americans in exchange for the energy demands of foreign nations?   Health professionals are coming together today to urge the White House to make sure that we have the facts prior to making this decision.  The only prudent thing to do here is to conduct the needed research first.”

Adam Law, MD, physician, Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca, NY, and Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, said:  “Researchers are finding measurable levels of pollutants from this industry in air and water that are associated with the risk of illness. The first studies to describe this are entering the scientific literature and public health researchers are embarking on multiple approaches to study the associated adverse health effects.”  

Madelon L. Finkel, PhD, professor of clinical public health, and director of the Office of Global Health Education, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, said: “Natural gas has been in these shale formations for millions of years; it isn’t going anywhere and will be around for future generations. Society especially owes it to those living in areas with both active and planned drilling to study the potential for harm (to the environment and to human and animal health) and to act to reduce those factors that are shown to increase the risk of disease and even death.”

Louis W. Allstadt, former executive vice president, Mobil Oil Corporation, Cooperstown, NY, said: “The current unconventional oil and gas drilling process using High Volume Horizontal Hydro-Fracturing is a much more intensive industrial activity than conventional drilling, which was the norm until about 10 years ago. It requires far greater volumes of water and chemicals, as well as disposal of much larger volumes of toxic flow-back fluids. We need to fully study and understand the health effects of the significantly greater volumes of toxic materials that must be handled and disposed of with this process.”

The full text of the PSE petition reads as follows:

“We the undersigned medical and scientific professionals urge the Obama Administration to put a hold on moving forward on the construction of new liquefied natural gas terminals for the large-scale exportation of shale gas to foreign nations. Our concern is that the Administration has not fully examined the potential for harm to health and the environment that could result.

There is a growing body of evidence that unconventional natural gas extraction from shale (also known as ‘fracking’) may be associated with adverse health risks through exposure to polluted air, water, and soil.

Public health researchers and medical professionals question the continuation of current levels of fracking without a full scientific understanding of the health implications. The opening of LNG export facilities would serve to accelerate fracking in the United States in absence of sound scientific assessment, placing policy before health.

As the White House and the Department of Energy contemplate exporting LNG to accommodate international demand for energy, the need for a deliberative process based on sound science is all the more important. We assert that a guiding ethical principle for public policy on fracking should parallel that used by physicians: ‘First, do not harm.’

There is a need for much more scientific and epidemiologic information about the potential for harm from fracking. To facilitate a rapid increase in fracking in the United States without credible science is irresponsible and could potentially cause undue harm to many Americans.

Without well-designed scientific studies, we will not know the extent of potential harm from fracking.  We strongly urge the Administration to err on the side of caution as it contemplates national policy regarding the exportation of shale gas.

The health professionals below sign as individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of their employer.”

For the full list of signers of the PSE petition, go to


Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy is dedicated to supplying objective, evidence-based, scientific information and resources on unconventional gas development (high-volume hydrofracking) and other novel energy production methods. PSE’s mission is to bring transparency to the important scientific and public policy issues surrounding energy, helping to level the playing field for citizens, scientists, advocacy groups, media, and policy-makers. For more information, go to

MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or

EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the Web at as of 6 p.m. EST on Dec 13, 2012.

Listen to the Audio

Letter Signatories:

Adam Law, MD Seth Shonkoff, PhD, MPHPhysicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy EnergyCayuga Medical Center

Weill Cornell Medical CollegePhysicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy EnergyUniversity of California, Berkeley

Ajay Pillarisetti, MPH, University of California, Berkeley

Alastair Iles, PhD, JD, University of California, Berkeley

Allison Wilson, PhD, Science Director, The Bioscience Resource Project

Amelia Pare, MD, President Elect, Allegheny County Medical Association

Ann Marie O’Reilly, MSEd, OTR/L   Holy Childhood, Inc.

Anne Neirynck, NP, IthacaMed

Antoinette Kuzminski, MD

Audrie L. Paluselli, RN, UPMC Mercy Hospital Pittsburgh, Pa

Barbara White, RNC, MS, FNP, Department of Medicine, Gannett Health Services

Byron Demopoulos, MD, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital

Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director, Physician for Social Responsibility, Washington, DC

Charles Garbo, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Claire Cifaloglio, MD, Retired Pediatrician

Coby Schultz , BSN, RN, Rochester General Hospital

Colleen Reid, MPH, University of California, Berkeley

Cora Foster, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Cornelia E. Farnum, PhD, DVM, Professor Emerita, Cornell University

Daniel Miller, MD, Chief, Clinical Quality and Training Hudson River HealthCare

Daria B Crittenden, MD, NYU School of Medicine

David Feldshuh, MD, PhD, Cornell University

David Gould, MD, MBA    

David R. Brown, ScD, SWPA Environmental Health Project

Deborah Payne, MPH, Kentucky Environmental Foundation

Denise DeJohn, MSN, CRNP, SWPA Environmental Health Project

Douglas MacQueen, MD, Cayuga Medical Associates

Ellen Henry, PhD, Univ of Rochester Medical Center

Elmer Ewing, PhD, Prof. Emeritus, Cornell College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

Erik D. Hiester, DO, President: Broome County Medical Society, Lourdes Hospital

Esther I Herkowitz, MS, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Health Net

Geoffrey E Moore, MD, FACSM, Director of Clinical Services, Cayuga Center for Healthy Living

Gerri Wiley, RN, Owego RAFT (Residents Against Fracking Tioga)

Helen Podgainy, MD, Children’s Community Pediatrics, Moon and Wexford

J. B. Heiser, PhD, Cornell University

James C. Macmillan, MD, Tompkins County Board of Health

James W. Walker, MD, Bassett Healthcare Network

Jeffrey Carlberg, MD, FamilyCare Medical Group

Jens Wennberg, PA, Ithaca Free Clinic

Joan Cain, FNP-C, IthacaMed

John Cooke, MD, Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca, NY

Jose Torrado, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Joseph A. Mannino, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Josephine C. McAllister, MD, Dermatology Associates of Ithaca

Judy Krisher-Bussone, RN

Julie Huntsman, DVM, Councilmember, Town of Otsego, NY

Karen LaFace, MD, Ithaca, NY

Karen M. Landt, MS, ANP, Clinton Crossings Dermatology

Katharine W. Lloyd, MD, MI Bassett Hospital

Katherine Schaff, MPH, University of California, Berkeley

Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL, Regional Director for the High Peaks, Catskill Mountainkeeper

Kathryn M. Zunich, MD, Iasis Partners, LLC

Kathy Dervin, MPH, 350 Bay Area

Kelly K. Branigan, RN

Ken Spaeth, MD, MPH, Hofstra University School of Health Sciences & Human Services

Kenneth Hill, MD, Gannett Health ServicesKimberly Carney Young, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Kristin Stevens, NP, ObGyn IthacaMed

Kristine Noonan, RN, Nurses for Safe Water

Larysa Dyrszka, MD, Pediatrician (retired)

Leslie A. Walleigh, MD, MPH, SWPA Environmental Health Project

Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH, Linda Rudolph and Associates

Lisa Stankus, CRNP, Gannett: Cornell University Health Services

Madelon L. Finkel, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College

Marcy Schaeffer, RN, NP, Ithaca City School District

Margaret Buckley, RN, MSN, Nurse Rise, Buffalo, New York

Margaret Rafferty, DNP, RN, MA, MPH         

Marguerite Uphoff, MD, MPH, FAAP, Northeast Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

Marianne Herr-Paul, DO, Wellspring Cottage, LLC

Marie Harkins, MS, FNP, CNM, Cayuga Medical Center

Mary McCutcheon, RN MS, San Francisco Department of Public Health (Retired)

Mary Menapace, RN, Concerned Health Professionals of NY

Marybeth Carlberg, MD, FamilyCare Medical Group, SUNY Upstate Medical Associate Faculty

Mel Packer, PA-C, Pittsburgh, PA

Melissa Poulsen, MPH, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

Meriamne Singer, MD       

Michael O’Brien, MD, University at Buffalo

Michael P. Branigan, CRNA, MS    

Michelle Bamberger, MS, DVM, Vet Behavior Consults

Monica Daniel, RN, CNM, LAc       

Nancy B. Stewart, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Nanette M. Dowling, DO, Cayuga Medical Center

Nina Pesante, MD              

Peter Clark, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Peter J. Davies, PhD, Cornell University

Peter Schwartz, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Philip Goodman, MD, Self-Employed/Private Practice, Binghamton, NY

Pouné Saberi, MD, MPH, Philadelphia Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility

Rachel Morello-Frosch, PhD, MPH, University of California, Berkeley

Rajaran Rao, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Rebecca Damiani, FNP-C, Gannett Health Services

Rebekah Bowser, RN, BSN, Phoenixville Area School District, Healthy Achievers, Maxim Healthcare

Richard Weiskopf, MD, SUNY Upstate Medical University

Robert Oswald, PhD, Molecular Medicine, Cornell University

Ronald E. Bishop, PhD, CHO, State University of New York at Oneonta

Samantha K. Davenport, MD, Chief of Pathology, Bassett Healthcare Network

Samuel M. Lesko, MD, MPH, Northeast Regional Cancer Institute

Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Ithaca College

Sarah Buckley, RN, BSN, CCRN, POWR, Protecting Our Water Rights

Sheila Bushkin, MD, MPH, Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY)

Stephanie Westerman , DVM, Medaille College, Buffalo, NY

Susan Cowdery, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

Susan G. Miller, MD, Gannett Health Services

Suzanne Anderson, MD, Trumansburg Family Health Center

Tawn Feeney, MA, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist

Teresa R. Miller, MD, private practice physician

Tim Cardina, MD, Cayuga Medical Center

William Klepack, MD, Dryden Family Medicine

William S. Tyler, MD, Cayuga Medical Center (Past President, Retired)

Zoë Chafe, MPH, MS, University of California, Berkeley


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