UPDATED: Pennsylvania Judge Unseals Records of Court Case Over Fracking-Related Health Complaints

What will the implications be of unsealing these court records in Pennsylvania?  The actual contents of the records are not public yet, so it is hard to say what they will actually reveal.  Naturally, environmentalists and the energy company involved are not in sync about what the ruling to unseal the records will mean.

From Bloomberg:
“They made very serious allegations about the health impacts of drilling near their home,” Matthew Gerhart, an attorney for Earthjustice, which urged the court to unseal the documents, said in an interview. “We are interested to know whether there is anything in the record that sheds light on those allegations.”
He called the decision a victory for anyone who believes more information is needed on the health and environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. While it’s not clear what specific information the records’ contain, it will probably prove relevant in assessing the effects of the fracking boom across Pennsylvania and nationwide, he said.
Range, which fought to keep the record sealed, said it now welcomes the disclosure.

‘Greater Clarity’

The file “should provide the public with even greater clarity that shale gas is being developed safely and responsibly,” Matt Pitzarella, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Earthjustice is undoubtedly hoping for some ground-breaking incriminating disclosures that can be used in its fight against fracking and fossil fuels.

Range Resources claims that the records affirm the safety of drilling.  Of course, that begs the question: If that's true, then why would Range fight to keep the records sealed?

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this decision.


From the Associated Press:
A western Pennsylvania judge says the public has the right to see a sealed settlement between gas drilling companies and a family that claimed the drilling operations damaged their health.
Washington County Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca ruled Wednesday that openness in the court system is more important than the interests of the companies.
Read the whole article here. 

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