EPA Partially Grants Petition to Initiate Reporting Rule for Fracking Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Nov. 23 it will solicit public input on the design and scope of possible reporting requirements for chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, partially granting a petition by 120 public and environmental health organizations.

EPA said it is partially granting the petitioners' request under Section 8(a) and 8(d) of the Toxic Substances Control Act and will initiate a public dialogue on the issue.

The rule requested under Sections 8(a) and 8(d) would establish reporting requirements for companies that manufacture and process chemicals used in exploration and processing of natural gas, and would require them to submit to EPA lists and copies of all existing health and safety studies conducted or initiated by or for them, known to them, or “reasonably” ascertainable to them.

Request for Toxicity Testing Denied.

The agency's action responds to a petition submitted Aug. 4 by a coalition of environmental and public health groups, including Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and American Rivers.

The groups in particular asked the agency to require public disclosure of the identify of the chemicals and their risks to human health and the environment.

EPA said its Nov. 23 partial granting of the petition follows a Nov. 2 interim response that told the petitioners it was not granting their request to require toxicity testing of all exploration and production chemicals and identification of all chemical substances and mixtures.

That request was denied because the petition does not satisfy the requirements of TSCA to demonstrate the need for additional testing, EPA said.

By Pat Ware

The petition submitted by environmental groups is available at http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/fracking_petition.pdf.

Additional information is available at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/chemtest/pubs/petitions.html.