Seventeen national and regional environmental groups are petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require oil and gas companies for the first time to report chemical use to the federal Toxic Release Inventory.
The drilling industry has long used and released large volumes of toxic chemicals and that has dramatically increased in the last decade with the rapid spread of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Ohio and other states, said the Environmental Integrity Project and 16 other eco-groups on a national teleconference Wednesday.
The petition, if approved, would require information on drilling chemicals be made available to the public for the first time on the federal TRI database.
“The Toxic Release Inventory brings daylight to dark corners, by requiring companies to quantify and report their pollution to a public database for everyone to see,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project.
He added, “Why shouldn’t oil and gas companies be required to report these toxic releases under our right-to-know laws, like so many other industries already do?”
The EPA estimates that drillers release 127,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants annually, second only to coal- burning power plants and more than other industries already reporting to TRI, Schaeffer said.
The TRI was enacted by Congress in 1986 after the Bhopal chemical disaster in India.
The federal program requires each industrial facility to report annually on its releases of more than 650 TRI-listed toxic chemicals to the air, land, water, landfills, treatment plants, recycling and other sites. It provides basic but essential information about facilities’ environmental footprints.
The drilling industry was largely exempted from TRI reporting requirements.
Other parties involved in the petition included Earthworks, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Federal Information Policy/OMB Watch plus grass-roots groups in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Colorado and Wyoming.
The full text of the eco-group’s petition is available online at www.environmental integrity.org/news_reports.php.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.