Gas industry loses fight to keep fracking pollution case secret
A judge ruled today in favor of journalists seeking access to information about a fracking pollution court case.
Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca reversed an order by a Washington County court 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 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Observer-Reporter had intervened in the case to unseal the records, while gas companies unsuccessfully fought to keep the records out of the public eye.
Earthjustice, the non-profit environmental law firm, submitted an amicus brief supporting the newspapers on behalf of 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. Sandra Steingraber, Dr. Simona Perry, Dr. Robert Oswald, Dr. Michelle Bamberger, Kathryn Vennie, and Earthworks. The doctors, scientists, and advocates argued in favor of greater transparency about natural gas operations and their health effects.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorney Matthew Gerhart:
“This case pitted the natural gas industry’s insistence on secrecy against the historic commitment of the courts to public access to judicial proceedings. The court’s ruling reaffirms the importance of public access to the courts. This is a victory for everyone who believes that we need more information about the environmental and health consequences of fracking.”