How Much Silence Has Chesapeake Bought for Its Lung Association Investment? UPDATED WITH GOOD NEWS

by jim on April 15, 2012

It pains us to have to write about this because the American Lung Association stood with Downwinders throughout the mid-to- late 1990’s and helped us turn the tide against the burning of hazardous wastes in the Midlothian cement plants. And we also understand how hard it is to raise money for non-profits with a recession/depression still going on. But in accepting Chesapeake’s money, totaling at least $500,000 and probably much more, what is the price ALA has to pay as air quality in areas like DFW gets sabotaged by wave after wave of gas production pollution? ALA was a no-show during the EPA and TCEQ summer hearings on new gas emissions regulation. They’ve taken no part in the struggle to write a new Dallas gas drilling ordinance despite their regional HQ being in Dallas and hiring a new “Environmental Health” staff person to take on the job of helping community groups fight for cleaner air. They’ve published no reports on Barnett Shale emissions, despite it being the single largest threat to DFW air quality progress in the last decade. One can’t help but wonder if the group would be more outspoken had it not received Chesapeake’s cash deposits. Big Gas has warped every institution and group it’s touched in North Texas, and here’s one more example of an organization that appears to be letting down it guard over public health in return for contributions from them. Et Tu, ALA? FRIDAY UPDATE: We’re happy to report that the ALA, along with the American Public Health Association, the American Thoracic Society, the Asthma And Allergy Foundation of America, and the Trust for America’s Health sent a very good letter to EPA supporting “the strongest possible standards to reduce harmful emissions from the production wells, processing plants, transmission pipelines and storage units within the oil and gas industry,” because “research has shown that these pollutants can cause cancer, developmental disorders, and premature death.” Moreover the letter supports the demand of citizens in the Shale that want to see the new EPA rules cover EXISTING wells along with new ones that are now targeted. In total, it’s the strongest letter to date from anyone at ALA on fracking and represents a huge step forward in the organization’s articulation of the various public health harms of the practice. We’re relieved to see that Chesapeake didn’t buy the conscience of the ALA when its checks were cashed by the group. Now that the ALA is on the record as supporting tougher air emissions strategies for fracking, we hope the local Lung Association in DFW will find ways to insert staff resources into the numerous manifestations of the national battle going on right here in North Texas, starting with the writing of new Dallas and Denton gas drilling ordinances, and the renewed struggle to obtain safe and legal air for the region.

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