North Carolina legislators are considering a bill that would make it a crime to publicly disclose toxic chemicals that energy companies use in the hydraulic fracturing process, with offenders on the hook for fines or even jail time.
Known as the Energy Modernization Act, the bill would make any unauthorized disclosure of fracking trade secrets – including the chemicals used – punishable with a Class I Felony, according to an Energywire report.
Fracking, a gas and oil mining technique which involves injecting a mixture of sand and chemicals deep into the earth, has been blamed for contaminated drinking water, infertility, birth defects, cancer, air pollution, and other serious concerns. Americans opposed to fracking have not only struggled with obstacles put in place by gas and oil companies, but also with the high profits and employment that come to struggling communities along with the process.
Environmentalists have called for more transparency in the conversation over the chemicals used, although gas companies have fought back by saying that their chemicals are a trade secret and thus should be protected. Now, under the parameters of the North Carolina bill, even firefighters and individual healthcare workers could be in trouble if they openly discuss the chemicals that are injected into the ground near their home.
“The felony provision is far stricter than most states’ provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets,” Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking laws, told Mother Jones.
If the bill, which has the backing of the state’s top Republicans, is signed into law, major corporations could be given the power to force emergency officials to sign confidentiality agreements, although the penalty for breaking that agreement is unclear. …
No seriously, it’s not a joke. It’s beyond humor or life and death. It’s 1+tomato=blue. It’s the death knell of a plausible government.