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Learn More

There is plenty of research that shows why protective buffers are necessary to protect
Pennsylvania residents and why we are advocating for specific distances for specific kinds of infrastructures.

Click any underlined or boxed-in words for studies, fact sheets, and more information. 
Why should protective buffer distance requirements be greater than they are currently?

Growing evidence shows that Pennsylvania’s current protective buffer requirement, that wells be located at least 500 ft. from buildings, does not sufficiently protect the public’s health and safety. Research shows that this 500 ft distance does not protect people from routine exposure to harmful levels of toxic substances emitted into the air such as benzene, hydrogen sulfide and carbon disulfide.

Pennsylvania needs improved protective buffer standards to better protect the public’s health from harmful emissions, better protect the public’s safety from explosion risks, and better protect waterways from accidents, spills and development impacts like habitat loss and increased stormwater runoff and erosion.

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Click here for a more detailed list and explanation of the Coalition’s recommendations.

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We need greater protective buffer distance requirements around buildings
like schools, hospitals and senior living facilities.

Children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with preexisting health conditions are especially vulnerable to the health threats associated with shale gas infrastructure. They deserve increased protection.

still developing respiratory, nervous and immune systems make them more susceptible to lasting harm from exposure to toxic substances emitted from shale gas infrastructure that impair lung function and neurodevelopment and exacerbate existing health conditions such as asthma.

have weaker immune systems and experience more difficulty breaking down toxins emitted from shale gas infrastructure, such as benzene, in their bodies. Research has also shown significant associations between shale gas development and hospitalization rates for the elderly.

who live near shale gas infrastructure experience heightened health risks compared to those living farther away. Research shows people with asthma who live closer to active natural gas wells were significantly more likely to suffer asthma attacks. Additionally, heart failure patients who live near fracking operations are more likely to be hospitalized for their condition than those who live farther away.

The Elderly
Infants and Children
People with Health Issues
Examples of Oil, Gas, & Petrochemical Infrastructure
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Photo citation: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2021. 
Compression Stations

Compressor stations maintain the pressure and flow of natural gas by receiving gas from a pipeline, re-pressurizing it, and sending it back into the pipeline system. Compressor stations can vary in size and are typically placed every 40 to 100 miles along a pipeline or near well sites and pollute the air for 24 hours a day, as long as gas is flowing through the pipeline. Compressor stations emit many of the same toxic pollutants into the air as unconventional wells but on a more consistent basis and over a longer period of time. The largest amount of emissions at compressor stations occur during blowdown periods, when natural gas is released through a blowdown vent, either intentionally, to control flow and pressure, and sometimes accidentally.

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Photo citation: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2021. 
Natural Gas Processing Plants

Natural gas processing plants are facilities that “clean” raw natural gas to produce what is known as “pipeline quality” dry natural gas and also recover natural gas liquids and substances, such as sulfur. Like compressor stations, processing plants constantly release harmful emissions into the air at varying levels, but emit greater amounts of pollutants into the air than both unconventional wells and compressors stations. Processing plants tend to have frequent, large-scale flaring events to burn off gases that produce high levels of harmful pollutants.  Processing plants also have more opportunities for fugitive emissions (leaks and other irregular releases of gases) than compressor stations.

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Photo citation: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2020
Natural Gas-Fired Power Plants

Gas-fired power plants are facilities that burn natural gas to produce electricity. These plants emit high levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can form ground-level ozone, the main component smog, and cause lung disease or aggravate pre-existing health issues. Research has shown a positive correlation between the levels of particulate matter pollution from gas-fired power plants and hospitalization rates in people over 70 years old living within 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) of a plant.

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Photo citation: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2021. 
Ethane Cracker Plants

A cracker plant is a large industrial complex that heats ethane (a component of shale gas) to create polyethylene pellets, the basic building blocks of most plastic products. These plants emit large amounts of NOx and VOCs that cause ground-level ozone, which is associated with increased rates of asthma, lung and respiratory infections, and cardiovascular problems. These plants also emit hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as benzene, which is linked to childhood leukemia and cancer; toluene, which is linked to brain, liver, and kidney problems and formaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen.

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Pipelines

Pipelines that transport natural gas and hazardous liquids (such as crude oil, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids) pose a public safety threat to those who live, work and gather within close proximity due to the risk of fires and explosions. Research has shown that between 2010 and 2019, incidents from pipelines, including explosions, have caused hundreds of injuries and fatalities and billions of dollars in property damage

Photo citation: Ted Auch, FracTracker Alliance, 2020.