A New York Times editorial last week amplified environmental justice groups’ argument that poor communities are at greatest risk when oil and gas fracking companies decide where to set up shop.
“Natural gas is big business in Pennsylvania,” the Times writes. But “the shale bonanza has also brought environmental headaches and raised concerns about whether the companies have disadvantaged poor people by drilling wells in low-income areas and exposing them to dust and traffic, as well as air and water pollution.” The editorial cites a letter last month from three environmental groups, asking the state’s Office of Environmental Justice to give citizens more of a voice in the permitting process for fracking wells.
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“The groups believe the industry may be choosing drilling sites that disproportionately affect low-income and minority residents,” the editorial notes, and they’re not alone. “In California’s Kern County, Latino and African-American residents are disproportionately likely to live in high-pollution areas near oil and gas wells. Environmental groups are fighting a county ordinance that could allow thousands of new wells without full environmental review. In the Eagle Ford shale field of southern Texas, a recent study found that sites for the disposal of fracking wastewater were disproportionately located in areas with high percentages of poor and minority residents.”
The Pennsylvania letter calls for a “retroactive analysis of past permits to determine whether low-income communities have borne the brunt of gas drilling,” the Times reports.
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