California Shouldn’t Keep Fracking Chemicals a Secret!


Last week, we launched our “Don’t Gag Docs” campaign, and stated, “one thing we know for sure: we will not support any fracking regulation or legislation that gags docs or limits public health research.”

There are 10 bills pending in the California Legislature this session directly related to fracking. The first of these bills, Senate Bill 4 by Senator Fran Pavley, will have a hearing before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, April 9th at 9:30 am.  (you can watch the hearing here).

True to our word—we’ve let Senator Pavley know (read the full letter) that we oppose SB 4 unless amended to remove the language that:

makes it the policy of the State of California to elevate the financial gain of select oil and gas industry players over the health and environment of the people of California.”

We also pointed out to Senator Pavley that:

this bill stands in stark contrast to that taken in Alaska where the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) has proposed a fracking regulation that requires disclosure of “the amount and types(s) of material pumped during each treatment stage and the total amount and types of material pumped…”to the Commission, but does not grant trade secret protection to the oil and gas industry.

As a matter of a fact, this bill buys into the “oft repeated chant of oil and gas industry lobbyist” that somehow the law about trade secrets entitles them to withhold from the public the kinds and amounts of chemicals are pumped into our soil, water, and air.  This, however, is not true.   As we pointed out to Senator Pavley:

Rather, this grant of trade secret protection should be seen as a policy decision based upon balancing the financial goals of the oil and gas industry with the public health and environmental goals of the people of California.  We urge you to strike that balance in favor of the people and environment of California.

And finally, we:

completely reject[ed the] idea that it is proper for the State of California to force doctors, nurses, first responders, and other health professionals to enter into a contract with oil and gas companies–or a multi-national corporation like Halliburton–in order to access information necessary to provide competent medical treatment to their patients…

We prefaced our objections to SB 4 by pointing out that:

We believe that the experiences to date, and the data that have been collected thus far, clearly establish the need for California to engage in more thoughtful consideration of the threshold question of whether to extract oil and gas from shale before answering the question of how to extract oil and gas from shale.  Until both those questions are answered, a moratorium is the most appropriate course of action.

PSR-LA will be in Sacramento on Tuesday to attend the Committee hearing on this bill and to ensure that our voices are included in this conversation.  We remain hopeful that Senator Pavley, a long-time leader in the environmental community, will revisit the language in her bill.

You can help move this conversation by sharing this post with your friends and colleagues using #dontGagDocs#fracking, posting it on Facebook, and/or linking to it on your site or blog.

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