I was contacted this morning by Casey Smith, the Press Director for Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, D-17, objecting to a blog I posted on March 26th titled, “
A Gag Order on Pennsylvania’s Doctors.In that post, I pointed out that among other problems with the Marcellus Shale fracking project in Pennsylvania, was a new law that would forbid Doctors from sharing information with patients about the chemicals contained in the well water surrounding their property, in which they came into contact on a daily basis. I specifically said, in context:Under a new law, doctors in Pennsylvania can access information about chemicals used in natural gas extraction—but they won’t be able to share it with their patients. A provision buried in a law passed last month is drawing scrutiny from the public health and environmental community, who argue that it will “gag” doctors who want to raise concerns related to oil and gas extraction with the people they treat and the general public.Pennsylvania is at the forefront in the debate over “fracking,” the process by which a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand, and water are blasted into rock to tap into the gas. Recent discoveries of great reserves in the Marcellus Shale region of the state prompted a rush to development, as have advancements in fracking technologies. But with those changes have come a number of concerns from citizens about potential environmental and health impacts from natural gas drilling.The provision was not in the initial versions of the law debated in the state Senate or House in February; it was added in during conference between the two chambers, said State Senator Daylin Leach (D), which meant that many lawmakers did not even notice that this “broad, very troubling provision” had been added. “The importance of keeping it as proprietary secret seems minimal when compared to letting the public know what chemicals they and their children are being exposed to,” Leach said recently, which sounds like it was scripted for him by the oil development companies upon whose dole he subsists.
The limits on what doctors can say about those chemicals makes it impossible to either assuage or affirm the public’s concerns about health impacts. “People are claiming that animals are dying and people are getting sick in clusters around [drilling wells], but we can’t really study it because we can’t see what’s actually in the product,” said Leach.So, my initial read of his comment led me to the comment I made about him being on the dole for the oil development companies. Upon re-reading his comment, my interpretation of his comment was wrong and I apologize. I have re-written and re-posted that section, and I apologize to Senator Leach and Casey Smith, and applaud her for her diligence in looking out for just and honest reporting and Senator Leach for looking out for the unempowered citizens of Pennsylvania.
March 28, 2012