Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PA: Urgent Actions Thursday, but Don't Wimp Out

A bunch of people, including me, tried to get the word out to muster opposition to a heinous bill foisted hastily upon the Pennsylvania public and environment by the gas industry in collusion with its political cronies (and mainstream media).

But Governor Corbett signed the bill, HB1950 (attached as a Word document), almost the minute it hit his desk yesterday. The bill is purported to be about taxes on the gas industry, but it holds some very disturbing, precedent-setting language that bolsters the gas industry's exemptions from oversight and its lack of liability for harms it causes. The mere passage of such a bill should send chills down your spine, whether you live in Pennsylvania, in a downstream state (NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, WV), a neighboring state (NY, OH), or a little farther away, because air and water know no state lines.

Just read this short section, buried on page 98 (my bold):
(10)  A vendor, service company or operator shall identify the specific identity and amount of any chemicals claimed to be a trade secret or confidential proprietary information to any health professional who requests the information in writing if the health professional executes a confidentiality agreement and provides a written statement of need for the information indicating all of the following:
(i)  The information is needed for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of an individual.
(ii)  The individual being diagnosed or treated may have been exposed to a hazardous chemical.
(iii)  Knowledge of information will assist in the diagnosis or treatment of an individual.
(11)  If a health professional determines that a medical emergency exists and the specific identity and amount of any chemicals claimed to be a trade secret or confidential proprietary information are necessary for emergency treatment, the vendor, service provider or operator shall immediately disclose the information to the health professional upon a verbal acknowledgment by the health professional that the information may not be used for purposes other than the health needs asserted and that the health professional shall maintain the information as confidential. The vendor, service provider or operator may request, and the health professional shall provide upon request, a written statement of need and a confidentiality agreement from the health professional as soon as circumstances permit, in conformance with regulations promulgated under this chapter.
(c)  Disclosures not required.‑‑Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a vendor, service provider or operator shall not be required to do any of the following:
(1)  Disclose chemicals that are not disclosed to it by the manufacturer, vendor or service provider.
(2)  Disclose chemicals that were not intentionally added to the stimulation fluid.
(3)  Disclose chemicals that occur incidentally or are otherwise unintentionally present in trace amounts, may be the incidental result of a chemical reaction or chemical process or may be constituents of naturally occurring materials that become part of a stimulation fluid.
(d)  Trade secrets and confidential proprietary information.‑‑
(1)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a vendor, service company or operator shall not be required to disclose trade secrets or confidential proprietary information to the chemical disclosure registry.

There's more; fracking can now legally occur near residences, and there are fewer restrictions than ever.

Delaware Riverkeeper is planning a day of resistance in several towns THIS THURSDAY, February 16. Please join. This cannot be permitted to stand. 

Delaware Riverkeeper's call to action is way too mild, though. 

Shouting "Shame on you" at people who have no shame is a waste of breath. Don't be fooled into thinking that such wimpy action will affect anything.

Instead, vow to learn and use "nonviolent direct action" -- what I call creative peaceful resistance (CPR), a term that is very appropriate in this life-or-death situation.

We need to tell these "legislators" that we will actively work to remove them from office, and some citizens and attorneys have to start figuring out how to remove this abomination as soon as possible from Pennsylvania law -- to recall it, rescind it, override it, throw it out, replace it with a law that actually protects people and nature rather than lining the pockets of a few crooks. And do some research and find the laws these crooks are already breaking -- they surely are committing crimes in standing Pennsylvania law, and if they're not, Pennsylvania needs a new law that makes fracking -- and the poisoning of people and the environment on which they depend for survival -- a crime. A growing number of New Yorkers support the draft of a law that makes fracking a crime, introduced by FrackBusters NY and Sovereign People's Action Network (full disclosure: I contributed to its writing); Pennsylvanians should waste no time in drafting their own.

It's especially urgent that all physicians and health professionals commit what I call CIVIL DEFIANCE (not "disobedience," because that would assume these creeps deserve our obeisance for some reason) and refuse to abide by this immoral, disgraceful "law." 


The following is from Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Protest HB1950 and the Takeover of Municipalities by Gas Development.

Three “lunch hour” protests being held at offices of elected representatives who voted for HB1950, selling us out to the gas industry. Please go to the one nearest you!

Thursday, February 16
Noon to 1:00 pm – Near Senator McIlhinney'sOffice (215-489-5000): North Main and Court Sts., Doylestown, PA 18901

Noon to 1:00 pm -- Sen. Ted Erickson’s office, 5037 Township Line Rd., Drexel Hill, PA (noon to 1pm on Thursday)

11:30 am -- Sen. Tim Solobay’s office, 68 E. Pike St. Canonsburg (at the Canonsburg Borough Bldg.)

WE NEED YOU THERE: Please come join your fellow constituents to express your outrage and disappointment that the PA Legislature has now made HB1950 into law. This so-called "Impact Fee" law has gutted municipal controls of gas drilling and related operations by preempting municipal zoning, forcing municipalities to allow gas wells, frack waste pits, pipelines, and other gas-related operations anywhere in a municipality, even residential neighborhoods, next to schools and day care centers, reservoirs and parks. This complete takeover of municipal rights by the State and drilling interests was approved by a majority of the PA Legislature.

We’ve targeted a few elected representatives who voted for the Bill, some who pledged to vote against it like Senators McIlhinney and Erickson, to feel the heat of the public’s shock and disapproval. This travesty must be protested--join us to tell those who voted for this devastating law "Shame on you for selling us out to the gas industry!" Other events will follow wherever constituents want to speak up; please try to take your lunch hour with us at one of these protests on Thursday.

Please make and bring along signs to express your concerns: "Shame on you Sen ______", "PA Leg has sold our rights to drillers", "HB 1950 takes away rights", "polluters/frackers get free pass", etc.

Please also write a letter to your Representative - share your concerns with those who voted for this bad law and thank those who stood up for you and clean water and air: http://www.delawareriverkeeper...

You can see how your PA legislator voted here:
Senate roll call --- http://www.legis.state.pa.us/C...
House roll call --- http://www.legis.state.pa.us/C...

1 comment:

Nicks said...

To fight this on a federal level, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 has a loophole that allows these gas and oil companies an exemption from the Clean Air and Water legislation from the 1970's. The loophole needs to be closed. Pennsylvania isn't the only affected state. This needs to be fought at the state AND national levels.