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Fracking Industry Colludes With Pennsylvania Legislature to Create Dangerous New Law

A photo of natural gas drilling in Dimock, Pennsylvania, taken in August 2009 for (Photo: Attorney Helen Slottje)

Fracking Industry Colludes With Pennsylvania Legislature to Create Dangerous New Law

A photo of natural gas drilling in Dimock, Pennsylvania, taken in August 2009 for (Photo: Attorney Helen Slottje)

Pennsylvania's state legislature has effectively signed a death warrant for some number of residents, who knows how many. Corbett’s about to make it official.

Pennsylvanians: Fight back — or suffer the consequences.

The fracking industry has written a bill that gives itself legal permission to poison Pennsylvanians-and keeps doctors who treat them once they’re poisoned from telling anyone else what poisoned them. The bill also essentially permits all gas drilling and processing activities anywhere, including in residential areas.

It’s all being sold as an “impact fee” bill. Counties that want the income will sign on — and that probably means most counties will.

The industry was helped in this covert operation by crooks in political office. Those political criminals should be held accountable (more on this below).

The 174-page bill, HB1950, was signed in both the House and Senate of the state’s General Assembly, and on Friday (2/10/12) the Senate passed it to Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett for signature.

This is yet the latest egregious example of industry-state denial of municipalities’ right to protect themselves. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that this is the legal permitting of murder — and legalization of coerced suicide.

There can be no question that the legislators who signed it are in collusion with industry. They are corrupt. There can be no other explanation. These people have an obligation to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania, and not only are they not doing so, but they are also denying citizens the right to protect themselves—and denying physicians and nurses the ability to protect their patients!

And if this outrage does not get Pennsylvanians (and everyone) out in the streets, in Harrisburg at the governor's mansion demanding a veto, and at the offices of state legislators, demanding a reversal of the bill’s passage, I do not know what will.

As Berks-Mont News reported on January 25, Pennsylvania municipalities currently do “have the legal right to decide where and how gas development occurs. Both the Municipalities Planning Code and the State Constitution vest municipalities with the authority and responsibility to address local environmental and public resources. State Supreme Court rulings have also made it clear that the state Oil and Gas Act allows municipalities the right to use zoning codes to restrict the location of gas wells.”

This law negates those rights and completely strips communities of their rights to self govern. This is a blatant abrogation of the United States constitution and all the hackneyed assertions that We the People have any say any longer in crafting U.S. law.

The Guilty Parties

The bill’s primary sponsor in the House (Assembly) was Brian Ellis (R-District 11). The 19 cosponsors included Samuel H. Smith (R-66), Mike Turzai (R-28), Stan Saylor (R-94), and Dave Reed (R-62). But take special note of the three Democrats who cosponsored: Ken Smith (D-112), Marc J. Gergely (D-35), and Paul Costa (D-34). (Contact info for some of them is below, but I hope someone will take the time to create an easy-to-navigate, easy-click way to call these creeps out all at once; I don’t have the time or technical expertise.)

If Corbett signs this bill into law, he will simply confirm what anybody who’s been paying attention already knows: He cares not for the people or future of his state.

If Corbett signs, Pennsylvania activists can kiss goodbye all the tens of thousands of hours of hard work done by countless volunteers working to stop fracking from further devastating their state, which until the recent arrival of this industry was quite beautiful and relatively unpolluted. All those hours spent in researching all aspects of fracking, from public health to physics, from environment to economics; in planning forums and community meetings; educating legislators; debunking industry lies; investigating and challenging unscrupulous politicians; exposing corrupt NGOs (“Big Greens”); going door-to-door talking to neighbors; writing local laws to protect communities; and forming coalitions across townships, counties, states, and nations.

Dorothy Bassett Picks the Bill Apart

I learned about this from Dorothy Bassett (with my boldfaces and a couple parentheticals), who read the bill in its entirety and synopsizes thus:

“[The bill] includes verbiage that says that when a patient comes in, sick due to exposure to chemicals, doctors have to request in writing info on [the chemicals patients might have been] exposed to (think of the time — and treatment delays involved in this process!) and then have to keep it confidential. Also, the industry doesn't have to reveal compounds that have formed when all these chemicals and materials from underground come together, nor do they have to report exposure to heavy metals, radioactive substances, etc., from below.
Given the problems with airborne and waterborne carcinogenic and neurotoxic substances from this industry's open pits of toxic wastes, compressor stations, and the like, this means that entire communities will still be exposed to chemicals that one or more people have had to see a doctor for, and that the doctors will have to keep it quiet while the communities are at risk.

The fact that the industry has included verbiage in this bill that prevents doctors from revealing the chemicals their patients were exposed to:

1. indicates that the industry knows that much of the substances they are using are a threat to public health – enough so that emergency room and other physicians would see cases of toxic exposure to fracking and related chemicals and substances on a regular basis, i.e. that this is not a safe process;

2. indicates that the industry wants to keep it quiet – they know that if the health risks of their activities due to chemical exposure (in air and water) were to become public there would be such enormous outcry that they would be – appropriately – shut down;

3. [shows that industry knows fracking/ms] is a human rights and a civil rights violation to the residents and workers affected, and would ultimately contribute to a public health catastrophe;

4. would guarantee that other individuals [and] families in the area would not be warned that they are being exposed on an on-going basis to highly hazardous chemicals that have made other individuals ill — often seriously and irreversibly ill.

The bill also says that the industry will NOT provide information on compounds created by the chemicals or the interaction of the chemicals with things below ground or any of the substances that come up from underground.

This means that they'd provide info only on the frack fluids — which the doctor has to keep confidential — NOT on what's sitting in frack pits, for example. Considering that strontium. barium and arsenic are common problems, along with naturally occurring radioactive substances, and brine, doctors won't know that the health problem could be coming from these substances from below ground. If they don't know this, they won't be able to test for or treat for exposure to hazardous compounds formed by this soup of chemicals, heavy metals, NORMs, brine and bacteria from far beneath the surface.

The bill requires that local ordinances “Shall allow well and pipeline location assessment operations, including seismic operations and related activities.” Localities “may not impose conditions, requirements or limitations on the construction of oil and gas operations . . . ” The bill makes sure that not only can municipalities not ban fracking, but they can’t even regulate how the poisonous operations and their harmful side effects will be situated and rammed down our throats.

Make Corbett Realize His Political Future Is at Stake

Now there is one option available under current law: GET TOGETHER AND STOP CORBETT FROM SIGNING THIS HORRIFIC BILL.

Should he sign this bill, the governor of Pennsylvania joins all the legislators who voted for this heinous “bill” as party to murder — because people will die from fracking (in fact, quite a few already have).

If he does sign, I see only one alternative: civil defiance from as many people as can be mustered in Pennsylvania, to occupy Harrisburg and dog these criminal politicians — especially the three Democrats and 17 Republicans who cosponsored this bill and Corbett — for the long haul. It must not be just a one-day event, but an ongoing demonstration of our rejection of our government's collusion in our own poisoning.

We need to tell all of these crooks in no uncertain terms that they have lost the support of Pennsylvania voters and will never get another term. And will be brought up on criminal charges. And we need people to start building the legal case against them. Start with the Pennsylvania Crimes Code Section 25, Section 2502, in which “Murder of criminal code, in which “Killing by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing, is considered “Murder of the third degree.”

And that is a crime in any civilized society. Slow poisoning or quick: The only difference is that it will be impossible for you to prove the link between frackers and your kid’s cancer when it develops five or seven or twelve years from now, and the frackers and politicians who colluded with them will be off the hook.

Don’t let that happen, Pennsylvania. Your very lives are at stake.

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