Local doctor sues over Pa. chemical gag rule, Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez says the state is preventing him from discussing fracking issues

Local doctor sues over Pa. chemical gag rule, Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez says the state is preventing him from discussing fracking issues by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, July 28, 2012, Times Leader
Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez claims the “medical gag rule” contained in Act 13, which amended the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, could prohibit him from communicating crucial information to other physicians involved in treating patients exposed to fracking chemicals. The suit, filed Friday in federal court in Scranton, names as defendants Michael Krancer, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection; Robert Powelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission and Linda Kelly, state Attorney General. According to the suit: Gov. Tom Corbett signed Act 13 into law on Feb. 14, 2012. The amendment requires natural gas drilling companies to reveal the chemicals used in the fracking process – which involves injecting water and chemicals into Marcellus Shale deposits to free natural gas — to medical professionals in cases of a medical emergency. Because the identity of the chemicals used in the fracking process is kept secret by drillers, the companies can require a physician to sign an agreement to keep the information he or she is provided confidential. The suit says Rodriguez has treated a number of people who have been exposed to fracking chemicals, including a man injured in a blowout at a drilling site. He alleges the gag rule would preclude him from sharing information with other physicians treating the patients. … The suit, filed by attorney Paul Rossi of Kennett Square, claims the Act 13 amendment violates Rodriquez’s right to free speech and due process. It seeks an injunction that would bar the state from requiring medical professionals to sign the confidentiality agreement and nominal monetary damages to include attorney’s fees.

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