A panel of judges is hearing arguments today in a court case over gas industry secrecy.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Observer-Reporter are seeking to intervene to overturn a court order sealing the record in a case in which a Pennsylvania family sued several gas companies over property damage and health impacts related to air and water pollution from nearby natural gas operations. The gas companies are fighting to keep the records out of the public eye.
The newspapers were joined in the case earlier this year by a group of doctors, scientists, researchers and advocates seeking access to information that could shed light on the health impacts of gas development, including the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
Represented by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, the group—Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Dr. Bernard D. Goldstein, Dr. Walter Tsou, Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, Dr. William Rom, Dr. Mehernosh P. Khan, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Dr. Simona Perry, Dr. Robert Oswald, Dr. Michelle Bamberger, Kathryn Vennie, and Earthworks—filed an amicus brief (PDF) in April supporting the newspapers.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorney Matthew Gerhart:
“As long as the natural gas industry continues to hide chemical information, fight journalists seeking the truth, and silence families to prevent them from speaking out, it will never gain the public’s trust—and rightly so. Instead of obstructing access to information, the industry should be disclosing the information necessary for researchers to investigate the health impacts of fracking.”