House leader defends new Pa. drilling law - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

House leader defends new Pa. drilling law

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - House Speaker Sam Smith said Thursday it's "outrageous" for doctors to suggest that Pennsylvania's new Marcellus Shale law could gag them from talking to their patients about chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

The Jefferson County Republican said the chemical disclosure provision of the law was pushed by environmental groups and replicates language used on the federal level for decades.

Smith released a statement a day after The Associated Press reported that some medical professionals are concerned because they will have to sign a confidentiality agreement in return for access to proprietary information on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Some doctors, including the president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, say the provision could have a chilling effect on research and on doctors' ability to diagnose and treat patients who have been exposed.

"Doctors will be able to provide all of the information needed to discuss any patient ailment," Smith said. "It is outrageous to think, let alone for anyone to portray, that the state would actually 'gag' a doctor in treating a patient. It is irresponsible for an organization to try and create such hysteria."

Smith did not name the organization but his spokesman, Steve Miskin, said Smith was referring to the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Miskin said the medical society has never approached legislative leaders with any concerns about the bill. He called the confidentiality provision a non-issue.

"It's akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater and that's what they have done," Miskin said.

A spokesman for the medical society had no immediate comment Thursday evening.

The disclosure provision, borrowed from a new Colorado regulation, requires drillers to reveal the identity and amounts of "any chemicals claimed to be a trade secret" to any health professional for treating a patient who may have been exposed. In return, the doctor must agree to hold the information in confidence.

The medical society has said the law is too vague, and that doctors will need explicit guidance on the limitations.

But Smith said the law allows companies to protect trade secrets while mandating disclosure to health professionals.

"We thought this was a good, proactive approach. Now Pennsylvania has the most progressive hydraulic fracturing disclosure law in the nation," he said. "It is designed for transparency and access, and it provides unfettered access to physicians or other medical professionals who need information to treat their patients."

The speaker's statement didn't address the other major issue raised by the AP story, the loss of research money into the potential public health impacts of drilling.

The House version of the shale bill gave the Health Department up to $2 million annually for new research, and for a statewide registry to track people with illnesses potentially related to drilling, a top agency priority.

Such a registry could reveal patterns of illness near natural gas development, provide data on any toxic exposures, and ultimately help researchers draw conclusions about drilling and public health.

But the money was stripped during last-minute negotiations between Republican leaders in the House and Senate and the administration of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

Miskin said negotiators felt there could be "alternative methods" of information gathering, including reliance on county health offices and private research institutions.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • WWII vet, 86, beaten outside Ohio hospital

    WWII vet, 86, beaten outside Ohio hospital

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:30 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:30:35 GMT
    CINCINNATI (AP) - Authorities say an 86-year-old World War II veteran is recovering after being beaten outside a southwest Ohio hospital where he was visiting his ailing wife. WCPO-TV reports that Paul Browning was outside Good Samaritan Hospital when the attack happened Sunday. He was there visiting his wife, who is recovering from a stroke. Family members say Browning was left bruised and swollen, and was expected to be hospitalized a few days. Officers arrested 30-year-old Craig Phelps. H...More >>
    CINCINNATI (AP) - Authorities say an 86-year-old World War II veteran is recovering after being beaten outside a southwest Ohio hospital where he was visiting his ailing wife. WCPO-TV reports that Paul Browning was outside Good Samaritan Hospital when the attack happened Sunday. He was there visiting his wife, who is recovering from a stroke. Family members say Browning was left bruised and swollen, and was expected to be hospitalized a few days. Officers arrested 30-year-old Craig Phelps. H...More >>
  • Lightning kills boy swimming in Pennsylvania creek

    Lightning kills boy swimming in Pennsylvania creek

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:09 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:09:34 GMT
    Authorities say a lightning strike has killed a boy who was swimming in a central Pennsylvania creek.More >>
    Authorities say a lightning strike has killed a boy who was swimming in a central Pennsylvania creek.More >>
  • Ohio police: Wedding guest tries to steal gifts

    Ohio police: Wedding guest tries to steal gifts

    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Police in Dayton say a wedding guest tried to make off with checks and cash for the newlyweds. Officers were called to the wedding reception late Saturday night after workers noticed that a safe had been emptied out. Police say about $6,800 was found in unopened wedding cards inside a tuxedo garment bag belonging to one of the guests. A police report says surveillance video showed a man entering the office and later walking out with the garment bag. The man told police he...More >>
    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Police in Dayton say a wedding guest tried to make off with checks and cash for the newlyweds. Officers were called to the wedding reception late Saturday night after workers noticed that a safe had been emptied out. Police say about $6,800 was found in unopened wedding cards inside a tuxedo garment bag belonging to one of the guests. A police report says surveillance video showed a man entering the office and later walking out with the garment bag. The man told police he...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms