SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

June 29, 2013

OH Fracking Law in Q

Environment

State law on fracking chemicals not legal?

U.S. EPA suggests federal law trumps Ohio reporting limits

By Spencer Hunt THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

An Ohio law that allows oil and gas companies to shield information about fracking chemicals from emergency-management officials and first responders violates federal law, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The state law, passed in 2001, requires that drilling companies share information about hazardous chemicals only with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which is supposed to keep the information available for local officials.

  • But federal EPA officials take a different view. A letter mailed in May to state emergency officials and environmental activist Teresa Mills states that the Right-to-Know Act of 1986 supersedes the Ohio law.

The Right-to-Know Act requires companies to share a hazardous-chemical inventory with local officials.

Mills, an Ohio organizer with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, demanded yesterday that the state revoke its law.

  • Mills said local officials need to know which chemicals are used in fracking wells in case they have to respond to a fire, spill or other emergency.
  • “Citizens have a right to full information regarding chemicals in their communities,” Mills said at a news conference. “We cannot allow any state agency to serve as a smoke screen, cloaking our right to know.”

Ohio EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the agency is reviewing the U.S. EPA’s letter.

Abbruzzese also said that the Ohio EPA’s State Emergency Response Commission will contact oil and gas companies “to make sure everyone is in compliance with their reporting obligations under state and federal law.”

Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said he doesn’t think the state has violated federal law. He said there aren’t enough chemicals used in oil and gas wells to trigger the federal reporting requirements.

Regardless, he said, fire departments can access a Natural Resources website that is supposed to contain information on fracking chemicals.

“(Before 2001), everyone was filing these paper reports on individual wells. They were storing them in boxes in firehouses,” Stewart said. “Is a firefighter supposed to rummage around in a box or go to an emergency?”

ODNR officials did not explain how the website works or whether first responders can access chemical data from the site.

It’s not clear whether Ohio EPA officials will ask legislators to change the 2001 law. Abbruzzese said that’s part of the agency’s review of the U.S. EPA’s letter. shunt@dispatch.com

@CDEnvironment

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1 Comment »

  1. continuously i used to read smaller posts which also clear their motive,
    and that is also happening with this post which I am reading at this place.

    Comment by Kristie — July 10, 2013 @ 3:10 pm | Reply


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