A proposed study of people in northern Pennsylvania could help resolve a national debate about whether the natural gas boom is making people sick.
The study would look at detailed health histories on hundreds of thousands of people who live near the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation in which energy companies have already drilled about 5,000 natural gas wells.
If the study goes forward, it would be the first large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment of the health effects of gas production.
Natural gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners is buying Sunoco in a deal valued at about $5.3 billion.
The acquisition would give Energy Transfer the capability to transport crude and other liquid hydrocarbons that are being produced in greater quantities thanks to the boom in shale drilling. Sunoco's pipelines crisscross the country, connecting the Great Lakes and Northeast to America's refining center along the Gulf Coast.