Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals Remains Woefully Inadequate

Energy

OMB Watch

In a new report issued today, OMB Watch finds that state oversight laws requiring disclosure of the chemicals used in natural gas fracking are in need of an overhaul. Disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is spotty and incomplete, and essential safeguards are missing.

"Public officials in state government are struggling to find a way to protect water supplies and public health in the wake of the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling and extraction. They haven’t gotten it right yet," said Katherine McFate, president of OMB Watch. "Some of the chemicals used in natural gas fracking have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer and kidney, liver and neurological damage, so it is imperative that local water supplies be carefully monitored and protected."

The report, The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect: State Actions Are Inadequate to Ensure Effective Disclosure of the Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Fracking, examines state disclosure laws and rules and identifies the gap between effective policy and existing practice. The analysis is especially timely given the ongoing boom in natural gas extraction: almost half a million natural gas wells are operating in at least 30 states, and more are planned.

The report asserts that an effective chemical disclosure policy should contain the following elements:

  • Before receiving a drilling permit, the owners and operators of natural gas wells should gather baseline information on nearby water sources and water and air quality. They should disclose the chemicals they intend to use in the fracking process and commit to regularly monitoring the water and air near the gas wells and near wastewater storage facilities for potential contamination for as long as the well is operating and for some period after operations have ceased.

  • Information on the chemicals used in fracking should be collected from drilling companies, well operators and manufacturers and should include specific information on the unique chemical identification numbers, concentrations and the quantity of the chemicals used.

  • States should have clear guidelines limiting "trade secrets" exemptions from disclosure laws to prevent companies from invoking this loophole to avoid disclosure.

  • Information about the chemicals used at each individual well where fracking occurs should be posted on a public website in a way that allows users to easily search, sort and download data by chemicals used, companies involved and well location.

"Some states, like Colorado, do a better job than others of making chemical information available to the public, but no state is requiring enough upfront collection of baseline data and ongoing monitoring to adequately protect local water supplies and public health. Citizens need to have adequate information to evaluate the potential risks and rewards of allowing natural gas fracking in their communities," said Sean Moulton, director of Information Policy at OMB Watch and an author of the report.

Because of a major loophole written into the Energy Policy Act of 2005, natural gas fracking activities have been exempt from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, oversight of fracking has shifted to the states.

Over the past three years, 13 of the states with natural gas extraction activities have established rules or laws to require some level of public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. Seven states with significant amounts of fracking have no public chemical disclosure requirements, even though a few of them do regulate drilling to a certain extent.

"We hope this report will encourage state and local authorities to improve their chemical disclosure standards, especially in those regions of the country most involved in and affected by natural gas fracking," McFate concluded.

Visit EcoWatch's FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less