Shale Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Colorado

Elaine Hill, Cornell University

The benefits and costs of resource extraction are currently being hotly debated in the case of shale gas development (commonly known as "fracking"). Colorado provides a unique research environment given its long history of oil extraction and, most recently, shale gas development. Building upon the first paper to find a causal relationship between shale gas development and infant health at birth (in Pennsylvania), this paper uses Colorado to provide external validity by exploring health at birth implications of other shale plays and explores the risks associated with shale development compared with other forms of drilling. To define exposure, this paper utilizes detailed vital statistics and mother's residential address to define close proximity to drilling activity and controls for historical drilling. It also utilizes a triple difference estimator and exploits the public water district boundaries to identify the infant health impacts of groundwater contamination, not previously identified.

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Presented in Poster Session 2