Loading…
Friday, November 28, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Tuesday, 11/27/2012

Disclose fracking chemicals

As Ohio’s an­tic­i­pated frack­ing boom emerges, state gov­ern­ment must hold the oil and gas in­dus­try more ac­count­able for the chem­i­cals it uses in the ex­plo­ration pro­cess. This is not a mat­ter of im­ped­ing eco­nomic growth, job cre­ation, or en­ergy se­cu­rity, but rather of pro­tect­ing pub­lic health and the en­vi­ron­ment.

A new re­port con­cludes that oil and gas ex­trac­tion op­er­a­tions across the na­tion re­lease nearly 130,000 tons of haz­ard­ous pol­lut­ants a year — more than any in­dus­trial sec­tor other than power plants. Yet much of this pol­lu­tion is not re­ported un­der the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s Tox­ics Release In­ven­tory, a pub­lic right-to-know pro­gram.

New drill­ing tech­niques can un­lock pre­vi­ously in­ac­ces­sible oil and nat­u­ral gas through hy­drau­lic frac­tur­ing, or frack­ing, of shale rock. The pro­cess in­volves the use of toxic chem­i­cals, along with plenty of wa­ter.

Ohio ap­pears to hold some of the na­tion’s larg­est re­serves of oil and nat­u­ral gas in the east­ern and south­ern parts of the state. It can be­come a model for re­spon­si­ble frack­ing, and for un­der­ground in­jec­tion of frack­ing flu­ids.

But this year, the state’s Gen­eral As­sem­bly de­clined to re­quire frack­ing op­er­a­tions to test the flu­ids they use, or to dis­close the chem­i­cals in­volved be­fore ex­plo­ration. A new law re­quires com­pa­nies to dis­close what chem­i­cals they use af­ter the fact. But it gives them as long as two months, and in­cludes an ex­cep­tion for trade se­crets.

The new law also lim­its who can sue en­ergy com­pa­nies over such se­crets. That lim­its trans­par­ency as well.

The EPA’s tox­ics in­ven­tory con­sists of 650-some chem­i­cals. But oil and gas pro­duc­ers need not wait for a gov­ern­ment man­date to in­crease dis­clo­sure.

The In­ter­na­tional Energy Agency, one of the world’s larg­est pro­mot­ers of en­ergy pro­duc­tion, has warned drill­ers world­wide that if they do not ex­tract oil and gas re­spon­si­bly, they could suf­fer ma­jor eco­nomic con­se­quences. A new agency re­port calls for more trans­par­ency about the com­plete cy­cle of drill­ing op­er­a­tions, chem­i­cal use, and dis­posal.

Nat­u­ral gas is so abun­dant glob­ally that it could sup­ply more en­ergy than coal, nu­clear power, and oil com­bined by 2020, the agency says. The new era of frack­ing of­fers Ohio a his­toric op­por­tu­nity, but only if drill­ing and waste dis­posal are done right. That in­cludes full and timely dis­clo­sure of the chem­i­cals used.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories