Otten to oil & gas executives: What is the value of a life?

EXTON, Nov. 2 – This week, the Pennsylvania House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee held a public hearing on unconventional well setbacks and legislation (H.B. 170) introduced by state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester. Following the hearing, Otten released the following statement and video:

“In 2015, my neighbor Mary knocked on my door to hand me a flyer informing me about a pipeline that would send highly explosive fracked gas liquids through our densely populated neighborhood, just feet from where our children play. That conversation with my neighbor was the very first step on my path to the legislature.

“Since joining the House in January 2019, I have gone toe-to-toe with oil & gas executives and my science-denying colleagues on the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee. For my nearly five years in office, I have continued to stand up for my community and affected communities across Pennsylvania, pushing for answers and accountability from those who still refuse to discuss or acknowledge the public health and public safety risks posed by fracking operations and related infrastructure.

“This Monday, the House ERE Committee held a public hearing on unconventional well setbacks and my legislation, HB 170, a bill that would expand the required setbacks for fracking infrastructure. Like the seven other legislative recommendations that came out of a two-year Grand Jury investigation into fracking industry operators, my bill is based in peer-reviewed science, now further supported by findings from the Yale School of Public Health and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Study after study -- and the lived experience of affected families -- has found that living in close proximity to fracked gas wells can cause severe health conditions -- especially in children -- and has a significant and detrimental impact on our public health. Yet, once again, at Monday’s hearing, we heard oil & gas executives dismiss scientific findings, resist regulatory measures to protect public health, and prioritize their own profits over the safety of Pennsylvania families. 

“So once again, I asked the same questions: What is the statistical value of a life? How many children are they willing to make sick, for how much money? How many children need to get sick or die before it is no longer cost-effective for oil and gas billionaires and their enablers?

“Over the years, it has become abundantly clear that for the fossil fuel industry and those who spout their talking points, it has never been about the people affected. But I will keep asking the questions until we get answers, and I will keep speaking up to represent the interests of my constituents, our district, and the people of Pennsylvania.”

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