The ongoing and fairly remarkable debate over whether the oil and gas industry can prevent the public (and even emergency first responders) from knowing the names of the chemicals that go into the toxic stews that are injected underground in the controversial process known as fracking may be taking a promising turn.
Though Gov. McCrory, the General Assembly and the state Mining and Energy Commission (which has been designated to usher the industry into North Carolina) have opted thus far to allow the chemicals to remain secret, there is some hope that federal regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency will weigh in to overrule this approach.
This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists:
The EPA can shed light on hydraulic fracturing chemicals
An opportunity exists for a more comprehensive federal law on chemical disclosure. The EPA is currently taking comments on a rule to require better transparency around chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing. The EPA plans to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to issue a rule that addresses many of the problems we’ve seen around hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure. The rule could provide the EPA and the public with better information about the identity and quantity of chemicals, but also more information about their public health and environmental effects—vital information for affected communities, emergency responders, medical professionals, and scientists.
However, the rule will not go without opposition. Hydraulic fracturing operators are expected to work to stop or limit the effectiveness of such a rule. Claiming burdensome paperwork and the importance of confidential business information, we can expect many hydraulic fracturing operators to object.
In the end, public health should trump business interests, as it has for other regulated industries. Citizens have a right to know what chemicals they might be exposed to, and what their potential health and environmental effects are. But the EPA will need support from citizens, medical professionals, emergency responders, public health specialists, and scientists to move forward with a strong rule. Join me in asking the EPA to take full advantage of this opportunity and issue a comprehensive and mandatory chemical disclosure rule around hydraulic fracturing.
Click here to visit the EPA comment section — which will remain open until August 18. Read more from the good people at Food & Water Watch have more information about the effort to end secrecy of fracking chemicals by clicking here.