Brennan Linsley/AP

Women living within half a mile from hydraulic fracturing sites are 25% more likely to have babies with low birth weight than mothers who lived more than two miles beyond the sites, according to a new study released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The findings by researchers at the University of Chicago, Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles suggests that hydraulic fracturing — a technique used to force out oil and natural gas from the earth — imposes negative health impacts on locals despite the enormous economic benefits it generates. While most drilling operations are in remote areas, some sites in places that are heavily populated.

However, the researchers told The Washington Post that their intention was not to condemn fracking, adding that “There’s a big effect within one kilometer of sites, which the oil and gas industry dislikes, but the impact on the population beyond that may not be massive, which opponents of fracking won’t like.”

How it was done: Researchers examined the weights of more than 1.1 million infants born to mothers living at different distances from active sites in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013, when hydraulic fracking transformed the state into a major producer of natural gas.

Go deeper

Trump refuses to answer question on whether he supports QAnon conspiracy theory

President Trump on Friday refused to answer a direct question on whether or not he supports the QAnon conspiracy theory during a press briefing.

Why it matters: Trump congratulated Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who vocally supports the conspiracy theory, on her victory in a House primary runoff earlier this week — illustrating how the once-fringe conspiracy theory has gained ground within his party.

Postal workers' union endorses Biden

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The National Association of Letter Carriers, the union representing roughly 300,000 current and former postal workers, on Friday endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, calling him "a fierce ally and defender of the U.S. Postal Service," reports NBC News.

Why it matters: The endorsement comes as President Trump has vowed to block additional funding for the USPS in the next coronavirus stimulus package, linking it to his continued baseless claims that increased mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud.

Lawmakers demand answers from World Bank on Xinjiang loan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. lawmakers are demanding answers from the World Bank about its continued operation of a $50 million loan program in Xinjiang, following Axios reporting on the loans.

Why it matters: The Chinese government is currently waging a campaign of cultural and demographic genocide against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, in northwest China. The lawmakers contend that the recipients of the loans may be complicit in that repression.