The rapidly expanding oil and gas industry is not required to report toxic chemical releases related to drilling and hydraulic fracturing to federal regulators like many other industries, but 17 environmental groups say it should.
Those groups Wednesday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require the oil and gas industry to report its air and water emissions to the federal Toxics Release Inventory. TRI is a database containing information on the disposal and release of more than 650 toxic chemicals from thousands of manufacturing, mining, chemical and electric power facilities nationwide.
Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocate for enforcement of environmental laws, said adding the industry to TRI will "allow citizens, industries and government agencies to better decide how resources can be developed responsibly."
Adam Kron, an attorney with EIP, said EPA estimates show oil and gas development, storage and gas processing facilities release 127,000 tons of hazardous chemicals into the air and water each year, second only to coal-fired power plants.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency has received the petition and is evaluating it.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry lobbying group, said it opposes any listing of its emissions and discharges.
"Misleading, provably false claims like these can be expected from such organizations who have long and notoriously struggled with the facts about the strong regulatory framework in place, especially across Appalachia," said Steve Forde, a coalition spokesman, in the written statement. "In spite of erroneous and disingenuous claims to the contrary, natural gas wells are not industrial facilities, and likewise, tightly-monitored disposal wells, governed by federal Safe Drinking Water Act and permitted by EPA, continue to fall short of well-established TRI reporting thresholds."
EIP was joined on the petition by 16 other organizations.