If you're a doctor in Pennsylvania and one of your patients comes to your office with a serious condition related to exposure to dangerous chemicals, you're entitled to a list of all the hazardous chemicals used by any fracking industry rig in your patient's vicinity. But you can't tell that patient what's killing him, according to a new provision in the law there.
Fracking involves pumping a lot of hydraulic fluids into holes drilled into solid rock so that natural gas can be extracted to the surface. The chemical combinations of those fracking fluids is considered "proprietary information", something rival frackers would want in order to get in on the bonanza of poisoning people's water supplies for profit. Obviously, frackers want to keep their poisonous cocktail recipes to themselves, because those pesky ol' environmentalists might alert the public to what they're up to and shut down a very profitable bidness scam they're running.
Here's a quote from a Mother Jones article by Kate Sheppard:
There is good reason to be curious about exactly what's in those fluids. A 2010 congressional investigation revealed that Halliburton and other fracking companies had used 32 million gallons of diesel products, which include toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, in the fluids they inject into the ground. Low levels of exposure to those chemicals can trigger acute effects like headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness, while higher levels of exposure can cause cancer.
When the fracking bill was being discussed in the Pennsylvania Legislature there was nothing in it about non-disclosure, as that provision was added to the law in committee after the bill had been approved. Doctors would be allowed to request and receive detailed information concerning the chemicals used at a particular fracking site operation, but would first be forced to sign a "non-disclosure" agreement, keeping that information away from the public and the doctor's patient.
Want to know how lobbying works? The fracking industry managed to get an exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory, and another exemption (known as the "Halliburton Loophole") allowing them to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act.
So if your water supply ignites in your sink, smells of diesel fuel and benzene, and you or your children begin to show ill effects from its consumption, by all means go see your doctor. He can petition the local fracking rig's headquarters to divulge the contents of your well, and perhaps can figure out a way to save your ass. But he won't be able to tell you exactly what it was that poisoned you. That's a secret. And you don't get to know the secret. You don't count.