Pennsylvania's top health official has assured doctors that a new gas-drilling law will allow them to talk with their patients about proprietary chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and share that information with public health agencies and regulatory bodies as they see fit, the Associated Press reported this week.
More than two months after the Pennsylvania Medical Society expressed concerns, Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila clarified a provision of the new law that requires doctors to sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for access to secret information on fracking chemicals.
A Senate Democrat who is trying to kill the confidentiality requrement says Avila's assurances are meaningless because they do not reflect what the law actually says.
The Associated Press recently reported that doctors are worried that the confidentiality provision was too vague and it could limit research into the public health impacts of gas drilling and doctors' ability to diagnose and treat patients exposed to carcinogens and other toxic substances in fracking chemicals. Some likened the rule to a gag order.
House Speaker Sam Smith called the doctors' assertions "outrageous" and "irresponsible." He said the provision was pushed by eco-groups and replicates language on the federal level for decades.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.