Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Harvard Study: FracFocus Fails to Provide Adequate Disclosure for Fracking Chemicals

Fracking
Harvard Study: FracFocus Fails to Provide Adequate Disclosure for Fracking Chemicals

Earthworks

By Alan Septoff

A message from TXsharon.

Thanks to two great stories by E&E’s Mike Soraghan, we know that the Harvard Law School has evaluated FracFocus.org and found government (and the public) shouldn’t rely upon it.

In short, Harvard says FracFocus is inadequate for at least three reasons:

  1. It is hard to determine when and if companies make disclosures.
  2. The data contained within FracFocus isn’t vetted—it consists of whatever the company reports.
  3. Secrecy claims made by companies aren’t vetted—FracFocus allows for unchallenged and extremely broad disclosure exemptions made at the company’s discretion.

In sum, Harvard says that FracFocus allows for disclosure on the fracking company’s terms without much regard for the community’s right to know. And the end product is inconsistent and unreliable.

More cynically (and Harvard doesn’t say this), FracFocus allows companies and states to receive the political benefit of requiring fracking disclosure without actually requiring fracking disclosure in a way that benefits the public or impacted communities.

Additionally, FracFocus makes retrieving the data much more difficult than it needs to be, as SkyTruth demonstrated by scraping the data and putting it into a much more public-friendly tool.

Background on fracking disclosure

Thanks to loopholes in federal environmental laws, frackers have been free to inject toxic-containing frack fluid through a community’s water table without disclosing them to the impacted community.

As the shale boom progressed, this ability caused increasing outrage to the point that it looked like meaningful disclosure might be required—perhaps even by the federal government.

In part to head off the possibility of federal involvement, gas development states and industry—working with enviros, including Earthworks—drafted and enacted disclosure requirements. Wyoming was first, followed by Texas.

During this time, industry funded the creation of FracFocus.org, which is administered by Ground Water Protection Council. Many states that require fracking disclosure, specifically require it through FracFocus. And the federal government is considering incorporating FracFocus into disclosure for fracking on Bureau of Land Managment lands as well.

State-based disclosure has come up short

As Harvard demonstrates, FracFocus has come up short as a fracking disclosure tool.

Unfortunately, the state interpretation of disclosure regulations is lacking as well. For example, Earthworks and other enviros are now suing Wyoming state government—which started as a trend-setter—for not properly implementing their fracking regulations.

Taken together, the inadequacies of state fracking disclosure implementation and FracFocus serve as a strong argument that disclosure should be required at the federal, not state, level. And were fracking treated like almost every other industry, that would already be the case.

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

——–

Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

 

People Have the Power - VOTE 2020

Climate-action nonprofit Pathway to Paris first launched in 2014 with an "intimate evening" of music and conversation after the People's Climate March in New York City.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Heo Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. sarote pruksachat / Moment / Getty Images

A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2020 presidential election poses a critical test of climate conservatives' willingness to put their environmental concerns before party politics. filo / Getty Images

By Ilana Cohen

Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.

But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.

Read More Show Less
Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva amid the COVID-19 outbreak on Aug. 17, 2020. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Read More Show Less
Exterior of Cold Tube demonstration pavilion. Lea Ruefenacht

By Gloria Oladipo

In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch