The Facts about Fracking and Physicians

Yesterday’s statement by the Pennsylvania Medical Society President Marilyn Heine should put to rest the recent panic over a provision in Act 13—the newly enacted Marcellus Shale legislation (HB 1950)—addressing physicians’ access to chemical information used during hydraulic fracturing.

Dr. Heine stated [emphases added]:

As physicians, our first priority is the health of our patients. We applaud the Corbett administration and the legislature for enacting a law that forces natural gas drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals they use as part of the hydraulic fracturing process. More importantly, language in Act 13 demonstrates their concern for public safety by empowering physicians, when they need to treat patients, with the ability to obtain from drilling companies “proprietary chemical compounds” not otherwise publicly disclosed.

…We are gratified by the strong public assurances from the Department of Health, Speaker Smith and House Majority leader Mike Turzai that their intent in drafting the law was for physicians to be able to speak freely with their patients, other health care providers involved in the care of their patients, and appropriate public health officials. Those statements clearly demonstrate their commitment to the health and welfare of all Pennsylvanians.

Act 13 was not written to create a barrier between physicians and their ability to treat patients. It was intended to and does just the opposite—ensures the medical community has access to any and all information to best care for their patients. 

Moreover, the language in Act 13 addressing chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing is being called “the most progressive disclosure requirements in the nation.” It’s unfortunate that instead of celebrating this accomplishment, anti-drilling groups try to drum up fear even when it’s unmerited.