Published on March 23rd, 2012 | by Don Lieber

Energy Mullahs on Rampage in Alaska and Pennsylvania, Prohibit Doctors and Citizens from Discussing Fracking Chemicals

In Iran, the Political Mulhas have explicitly “banned  from discussion in the media” when it comes to specific topics, including Iran’s economic troubles, foreign policy controversies, social taboos, and the unrest among Iran’s Azeri, among other things.

Here in the U.S., the Energy Mullahs are doing the same thing.

Iranian Mullahs

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett







Like the tobacco industry in previous years, the natural gas industry is trying to stop public discussion of the established health risks associated with its ambitious plans to place highly charged explosives deep under the ground and extract a portion of the resulting explosion’s emissions for profit.

Shell’s drilling Jihad committee this week initiated an unprecedented “pre-emptive lawsuit” against several well-established US environmental organizations (Sierra Club, etc.), which would prohibit, in advance, FUTURE INJUNCTIONS regarding the environmental hazards of Shell’s not-yet-even submitted new plans for off-shore oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic.

Think about that in common terms:  I better sue my neighbor, Tom, today — I’m having a party next week and he’s sure to complain about the music. I’ll get a court order TODAY, preventing him in advance of even complaining!    

The industry’s intention to stop public discussion of health risks is being buttressed by certain high-profile politicians, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett — whose state is at the center of a rush to ‘fracking’ development of it’s considerable natural gas reserves. In February, Corbett signed into law a new amendment to Title 52 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The following is a summary of the law, as provided by Star Telegraph:

  • Gas Companies don’t have to reveal how the chemicals and gases used in fracking interact with the natural compounds surrounding their subterranean drilling and explosions. 
  • Companies do not have to release chemical information to physicians and health care professionals.   If they do, the new law:  
  • forbids doctors from warning the community of water and air pollution that may be caused by fracking.
  • forbids doctors from telling their own patients what the physician believes may have led to their health problems.
  • forbids doctors from sharing with a medical specialist information about the chemicals or compounds, thus delaying medical treatment.

The clauses are buried on pages 98 and 99 of the 174-page bill, which was initiated and passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law in February by Corbett.

“I have never seen anything like this in my 37 years of practice,” says Dr. Helen Podgainy, a pediatrician from Coraopolis, Pa. The new law, she says, not only “hinders preventative measures for our patients, it slows the treatment process by gagging free discussion.”

Below is a graph of the chemicals used in fracking that are associated with health risks, as provided by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

(Author’s note: This graph expresses established health risk from fracking-related chemicals; this does not include the greenhouse-gas implications on climate change, also inherent in fracking.)

These are the chemicals — known carcinogens, neurological toxins and endocrine disruptors among them —  which Governor Corbett would rather hide from Pennsylvanians in the service of promoting the natural gas industry.

Dr. Jerome Paulson, director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., called the new law “unprecedented” and “detrimental to the delivery of personal health care and contradictory to the ethical principles of medicine and public health.”

Physicians, says Paulson, “have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect the health of the public, and this law precludes us from doing all we can to protect the public.” He has called for a moratorium on all drilling until the health effects can be analyzed.

Got an unusual form of lung cancer, dude? Hair falling out, Madame? (This happens — google: “Dimock, Pennsylvania,” for starters. ) What’s that — the children at school are getting sick? And did you mention that the school gets it’s drinking water from a well near a new mining site?

Don’t bother asking the doctor, he isn’t allowed discuss.
by order of the Mullah… I mean, Governor.


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About the Author

Don Lieber has written extensively on human rights, war and disarmament, and environmental issues. His work has been published by the United Nations, The Associated Press, The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, DeSmog Blog, and many others. He also plays bass for the NYC-based band "Wifey" and scrubs surgeries.

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