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Tonight, 10 candidates will face off at the fifth Democratic primary debate in Atlanta. Also, it's Transgender Day of Remembrance, honoring trans and gender non-conforming people who have been killed this year.

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Loopholes for Oil and Gas Hanging Public Health in WYO? Congress Takes a Look

November 5, 2007

Cheyenne, WY – Perhaps the oil and gas industry should follow the same environmental rules as other businesses. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is taking a closer look at public health concerns related to accelerated drilling activity, in Wyoming and other states. The Natural Resources Defense Council has been tracking health problems that could be the results of exposure to industry pollution. Report author Amy Mall says what they've found points to the need for oil and gas developers to pay more attention to federal Clean Air and Water Act laws.

"Sore throat, burning eyes, nosebleeds –- some people have had more serious neurological-type symptoms, or breathing issues."

The NRDC report is one of two being presented to Congress. Mall says some Wyomingites blame tumors and cancers on chemicals related to development. Most projects are exempted from federal environmental laws, although Congress is considering requiring the industry to follow rules in the interest of public health. Mall adds keeping dangerous chemicals away from the public wouldn't require new technologies.

"They're readily available, they're affordable and, in some cases, they're even profitable after the initial investment. That's documented by state and federal agencies, and even by industry research."

The industry's response is that self-regulation has been sufficient to protect the public, and that more federal laws would slow projects down.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - WY