“Do no harm” is the first rule of giving medical care, as in, ‘Whatever you do, don’t make things worse.’
This is essentially the message that was delivered to the White House today in the form of a petition from over 100 medical doctors and researchers across the country.
The petition was put together by Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy. They are asking the President to slow down a bit on rushing the development of gas extraction in the US for sale to other countries. Yes, it would provide jobs and economic benefits, but this petition cites the growing body of science that suggests that fracking could cause health and environmental problems.
If you’re hazy on the details, here’s the short description of fracking: Usually gas and oil are found in pockets in the earth. You drill a hole and put a straw into the pocket to channel the it up to the surface. Sometimes though, the oil and gas are locked up in the rocks, so you can’t just suck it up through a straw. “Fracking” is really hydraulic fracturing, using water, sand, “chemicals” and high pressure to fracture the rocks and free the oil/gas within.
So what’s the problem? The main problem is in the term “chemicals.” The fluids used in fracking are the private property of the companies that produce them, like Coca-Cola’s secret formula. There could be all kinds of dangerous chemicals that get into the ground, air, and water, and that’s why these petitioning scientists are so concerned. President Obama is close to giving the go-ahead to building new facilities that would lead to an increase in fracking.
These scientists aren’t saying fracking is the devil, or that Obama should take a hard line on the practice, just that he should wait for more science to emerge before encouraging more fracking.
Leave it to scientists to rain on the money parade. At least if people are made sick, they can get better healthcare through Obama’s health reforms.