A new interactive map shows 782,627 Texas children attend schools or daycares within a half mile radius of active oil and gas production facilities that could be hazardous to the children’s health.
The Oil & Gas Threat Map also shows that 320,773 senior citizens and 310 medical facilities are located within a half mile of potentially hazardous oil and gas production facilities.
Released Oct. 12, 2017, by the national environmental groups Earthworks and Moms Clean Air Force, the updated map is designed to inform and mobilize Texas residents about the health risks from the oil and gas industry’s toxic air pollution.
In Texas, the Oil & Gas Threat Map locates each of the state’s 416,442 active oil and gas wells, compressors and processors. The interactive map is designed to allow the public to look up any street address to see if it lies within the health threat radius, see infrared videos showing the normally invisible pollution at hundreds of the mapped facilities and watch interviews with people impacted by the pollution. (See how it works here: http://oilandgasthreatmap.com/threat-map/texas/ )
“The health threats to children that live near oil and gas production sites is real and is a public health concern that not only contributes to a child’s poor health, but has negative impacts to the economic development of the region,” said public health expert Adelita Cantu, Ph.D., R.N. with University of Texas Health in San Antonio.
Cantu said the map provides essential information. “It is critical to arm parents and guardians with the knowledge on how to minimize those exposures and a tool like the Oil & Gas Threat Map addresses that need. Public health nurses and other health professionals can use this tool to better educate communities that are vulnerable and assist them in building capacity to bring this issue to policymakers as well as others.”
President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency have have rolled back dozens of Obama-era environmental protections. (See National Geographic’s running list of changes here: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/) At the same time, the Texas legislature has removed municipalities’ ability to protect their residents from environmental risks. (more on that story from NPR here: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/20/408156948/new-texas-law-makes-local-fracking-bans-illegal )
"With more Texas children attending schools threatened by pollution from nearby oil and gas operations than any other state, it's unnerving to watch our federal government attempt to stall and revoke safeguards intended to protect children in places where they learn and play,” said Krystal Henagan, Texas Field Consultant, Moms Clean Air Force. “Moms expect that vital health and safety protections from industrial pollution are implemented, not disregarded."
Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Page said Texans need to “support stronger safeguards against toxic oil and gas air pollution.”
Earthworks: https://www.earthworksaction.org/ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions. Moms Clean Air Force: http://www.momscleanairforce.org/ is a national community of more than 1 million moms and dads with nearly 40,000 members in Texas, working to combat air pollution, including the urgent crisis of our changing climate.