Pennsylvania

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Governor Corbett Says Doctors’ Concerns Over Act 13 May Be “Moot”

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Governor Corbett announces his impact fee plan, in October 2011.

Governor Corbett says he’s not sure how the rule governing a healthcare worker’s access to trade secret information got into the state’s new drilling law. He also says the controversial local zoning provisions of Act 13 re-establish a Pennsylvania law that existed before a Supreme Court ruling in the 1980′s. WHYY’s Radio Times host Marty Moss-Coane interviewed Corbett Tuesday night at an annual event sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and WHYY. The local zoning restrictions within Act 13 are being challenged in court by several municipalities. Corbett defended the provision.

“What it re-established in the zoning law,” said Corbett, “is pretty much what the law was before a Supreme Court decision in mid-1980’s. There has to be some ability to have some predictability about letting people go down and get their gas and most importantly being able to let people transport their gas across municipalities.”

Corbett says with over 2500 municipalities in the state, it would be difficult for gas companies, and the communities themselves, to know what to expect. He said Act 13 also made Pennsylvania the state with the most stringent environmental laws when it comes to oil and gas drilling.

Marty Moss-Coane also asked Corbett about the so-called “gag rule” for doctors. Act 13 has a provision that requires doctors to sign a confidentiality agreement should they need information on trade secret chemicals used by drillers, in order to treat patients. Corbett says that provision may be amended.

“We gotta take a look at that,” said Corbett.  ”I’m not sure how that got put in there.  I don’t recall how that got in there. There are certainly confidentiality issues. We have to see what happens with the federal government because they’re getting ready to issue regulations on the formula so that might become moot down the road.”

We’re not sure which new federal regulations would apply to trade secret chemicals used by drillers to frack wells, and the ability of doctors to access that information. We’ve reached out to the Governor’s office for more information and will let you know when we find out.

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