Pennsylvania’s New Gag Rule on Fracking Cancer Risks

By now, you have heard at least the basics about gas fracking operations: energy companies drill deep into the earth and use a high-pressure jet of water laced with chemical additives to blast through shale rock to release trapped natural gas.

The gas bubbles upward. The water? Well, some of it is trapped deep beneath the ground, but some of it trickles back to the surface, now contaminated not only with the original poisonous chemicals but also with new radioactive minerals and toxic compounds from deep underground.

Now a new report from the advocacy group Food and Water Watch strengthens the case against dangerous fracking chemicals. The report, Fracking: The New Global Water Crisis, takes a worldwide perspective in assessing the risks from gas mining operations. On the one hand, says environmental writer Sandra Steingraber, when the natural gas is free, water must take its place — water that will never again be part of the renewal cycle for fresh water. On the other hand, she writes, “potential carcinogens make up 25 percent of the chemical additives used in fracking operations. Sometimes, through leaks, blow-outs, or surface spills, these chemicals migrate into water not intended for fracking.”

Pennsylvania to doctors: Shut up

If those poisons get into our water supplies — and they already have — then at least we can trust that someone will take care of us, right?

Maybe not. The fracking-friendly Pennsylvania state government has passed a law, Act 13, which takes effect in the middle of April. As a recent editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News points out that one effect of the new law will be to clamp a muzzle on Pennsylvania doctors. “If physicians want to learn the exact chemicals being used in fracking,” the writer says, “they must sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents them from sharing what they know with their patients or other doctors.”

Those who support the law say that provision exists to protect industry “trade secrets.” That’s a clever cover story, but it seems at least as likely that the rule exists to stop doctors from warning their patients — and the general public — about the poisonous broth seeping into Pennsylvania’s lakes and waterways.

The rule seems to violate both medical ethics and the right of free expression. Even worse for people sickened by fracking wastewater or exposed to chemicals on the job, the law would limit every doctor’s ability to treat medical conditions — yes, even including cancers. When the legislature begins imposing limits on what doctors can say as part of their medical practice, then state government is playing politics with everyone’s health. We should all be very uncomfortable with the ladies and gentlemen of Harrisburg taking on that authority.

Standing up to Big Energy

Fortunately, there are still a few people willing to confront the energy conglomerates. If you or a loved one has been injured due to exposure to fracking chemicals or an accident at an energy industry job site, you need to contact Jon Ostroff right away. Jon is Pennsylvania’s premier fracking injury lawyer, and his staff at Ostroff Injury Law will stand up to the corporate interests in order to get everything you deserve to compensate your injuries. Call today at (855) 880-6667 or fill in the online form to get a FREE, no-obligation evaluation of your case.