Q&A with Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw
Our reporting found toxic exposures in Pennsylvania families living near fracking. What do politicians have to say?
On March 1, EHN published Fractured, a 4-part series documenting the results of a two-year study on fracking and health, which found high levels of toxic chemicals in the bodies of Pennsylvania families in fracking communities.
In response to the reporting, 35 lawmakers representing both the state House and Senate issued a public letter calling on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to take "immediate action in response to the ongoing harm" from fracking.
EHN reached out to 37 other local and state lawmakers who didn't sign the letter to share our findings and request a response. Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw was among them.
Yaw is a Republican who has represented Pennsylvania's 23rd District, which includes Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Union Counties, and part of Susquehanna County, since 2009. In November, Yaw was among the group of 12 Pennsylvania Senate Republicans who met with Rudy Guliani and Donald Trump to brainstorm ways to overturn the results of the state's presidential election.
Yaw chairs the Pennsylvania Environmental Resources & Energy Committee; he provided comments about his relationship to the oil and gas industry prior to publication, which are included in the series. EHN sent a brief summary of what our investigation found along with a short list of questions to Sen. Yaw and requested a follow-up interview.
Instead of agreeing to an interview or responding to our specific questions, Yaw's Chief of Staff Nick Troutman sent the following statement on behalf of the State Senator:
"This particular study by EHN is obviously another Heinz-Foundation-funded project attacking shale. EHN received $1.4 million from the Heinz Foundation. With respect to this particular report, even the authors acknowledge that the work is not peer reviewed, is unpublished in scientific journals, and 'should not be used to make scientific determinations.'"
Related: Fractured: About our data
Editor's note: The Heinz Foundation is one of many EHN funders. Our organization has not received $1.4 million from the Heinz Foundation. We used funding from readers and from various grants to conduct the Fractured study. EHN is a nonprofit newsroom and is editorially independent from its funders. EHN has never stated that its research "should not be used to make scientific determinations" because it has yet to undergo peer review.
Banner photo credit: Pennsylvania Senate Republican Caucus, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons