Local officials are calling on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to require studies of health and safety risks before approving any new natural gas infrastructure.
In separate letters, boards of health representing 100 communities including Salem, Gloucester, Marblehead, Methuen, and Essex raise myriad concerns about the state's reliance on natural gas as a fuel source. They’ve asked the state to create a public health campaign aimed at educating energy consumers about the possible dangers.
Health officials cite studies suggesting a link between stovetop cooking using gas and high rates of childhood asthma and other respiratory ailments.
Others note the increased air pollution from thousands of leaks along natural gas lines—not to mention the hazards of explosions and fires.
They want the Baker administration to require assessments for any new natural gas projects to gauge potential risks to the public.
"Our current reliance on natural gas is harmful to human health during extraction, shipment, delivery and use," said Madeleine Scammell, an environmental health professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health. "Investments in gas infrastructure should require full assessment of the physical and chemical hazards."
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