State Sen. To Introduce Fracking Chemical Disclosure Bill

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As we noted last March, Pennsylvania’s then-new shale gas law, Act 13, includes an oft-overlooked provision that would allow the state’s doctors to request information on fracking health hazards but would not allow them to share that information with anyone — including, as far as the language of the law makes clear, their patients.

Within a month of that fact becoming public, state Sen. Daylin Leach announced he planned on writing a bill which would “create a clearer and more comprehensive definition for the ‘medical necessity’ exemption under which drilling companies must immediately provide information requested if a health care professional can show the details are relevant to treatment or diagnosis of a patient.” He did. It went nowhere.

On Wednesday, Leach released a new memo to the state legislature, noting he will be re-introducing that bill to “clarify the rights and responsibilities of physicians and other health care professionals as set forth in the recently passed Act 13.”

He notes that the law, as it currently stands, “allows drilling companies to withhold from the public the composition of fracking fluid … if they deem it to be ‘proprietary information’” — and that ain’t right.

Gov. Corbett and others have repeatedly said that Leach is misinterpreting the law — that sure doctors can tell their patients whatever they need to! Leach’s response is straightforward: If this ambiguity in Act 13 wasn’t intended, then the governor and the legislature should be in favor of clarifying the language as he suggests.

As noted in his memo, Leach’s bill would (a) require gas companies to comply with health-care professionals’ requests for information regarding fracking fluid content, (b) allow health-care professionals to share that information with their patients, and c) if necessary, allow health-care professionals to share that information with “public health officials at the local, state or federal level, as well as, in the case of an emergency, the public-at-large.”

Fracking enthusiasts and energy trade organizations have repeatedly argued, both in print and video, that fracking is not dangerous and is only a benefit to the state’s economy. Most recently, the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s public relations firm, Energy in Depth, released a direct rebuttal to Matt Damon’s new movie Promised Land, which they’ve called “The Real Promised Land,” featuring a series of vignettes from local Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado business owners who have benefited from natural gas production.

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