Groups Petition EPA To Disclose Fracking Emissions

October 31, 2012

The oil and gas industry has lobbied hard — and successfully — to keep the public from knowing about toxic chemicals they are pumping into underground formations with a technique called "fracking," short for hydraulic fracturing. These chemicals may escape into drinking water aquifers if fracking wells are built sloppily, and they may also escape into the air and make people nearby sick.

The gas industry won itself an exemption from disclosure requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act under amendments passed in 2005. That exemption deprives EPA of authority under SDWA to disclose fracking fluid ingredients. But now environmentalists have mounted a new gambit, claiming EPA has authority to compel disclosure under a different law — and urging EPA to use it.

It's the law that established the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). Under EPCRA, EPA has the authority to require drilling industries to report their emissions by regulation. It has not extended the TRI requirements to the drilling industry, despite the fact that drilling industries emit some 30 percent of the total emissions of TRI toxics.

The groups include: the Environmental Integrity Project, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, CitizenShale, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks, Elected Officials to Protect New York, Environmental Advocates of New York, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, OMB Watch, PennEnvironment, Powder River Basin Resource Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Sierra Club, and Texas Campaign for the Environment.