EPA Shields Firms

Regulatory Favoritism in North Carolina

Plan Shows Regulatory Agency and Fracking Industry in Cahoots to Promote Drilling in State Parks

Report says EPA shields firms

Chemical details kept secret, files say

By Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger McClatchy-Tribune

MILWAUKEE -The U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency routinely allows companies to keep new information about their chemicals secret, including compounds that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory problems, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found.

The newspaper examined more than 2,000 filings in the EPA’s registry of dangerous chemicals for the past three years. In more than half the cases, the EPA agreed to keep the chemical name a secret. In hundreds of other cases, it allowed the company filing the report to keep its name and address confidential. This is despite a federal law calling for public notice of any new information through the EPA’s program monitoring chemicals that pose substantial risk. The whole idea of the program is to warn the public of new- found dangers. ‘

The EPA’s rules are supposed to allow confidentiallity only “under very limited circumstances.”

Legal experts and environmental advocates say the practice of sanitizing,” or blacking out, thls informatlon not only strips vital information from the public, but violates the agency’s own law. ‘

Section 14 Of the toxic Substances Control Act, the foundation for all the EPA’s toxic and chemical regulations, stipulates that chemical producers may not be granted confidentiality when it comes to health and safety data.

“The EPA has chosen to ignore that,” said Wendy Wagner,a law professor at the University of Texas-Austin.

http://www.earthjustice.org/

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.

Earthjustice does not have a Midwest chapter. However, their website is extremely educational. You will learn how our current regulations fail to protect our health and the health of the planet.  Spending a little time at this website will strengthen your resolve to fight for a cleaner Chippewa Falls.

Comments

  1. EDITORIAL from the New York Times
    Getting Gas Drilling Right
    Published: December 11, 2011

    After several crowded and often raucous hearings, Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to give the public until Jan. 11 to comment on 2,000 pages of environmental analysis and proposed regulations designed to govern natural gas drilling in deep shale formations in New York State. The extension makes sense. The drilling decision is a momentous one, for the environment and the economy, and it is vitally important to get it right.
    Related

    Millions Spent in Albany Fight to Drill for Gas (November 26, 2011)
    Before Release, a Hydraulic Fracturing Study for the State Draws Skepticism (September 3, 2011)
    New York Subpoenas Energy Firms (August 19, 2011)
    Drilling Down

    A Times series examining the risks of natural gas drilling and efforts to regulate this rapidly growing industry.
    Go to the Series »
    Times Topic: Natural Gas
    Related in Opinion

    Editorial: Too Fast on Drilling (September 12, 2011)
    Readers’ Comments
    Share your thoughts.
    Post a Comment »
    Read All Comments (33) »
    The issue is not the fuel. There is little doubt in our minds that natural gas, which is cheap, plentiful and cleaner than coal, could help greatly with the country’s energy and climate problems.

    The question is whether it can be safely extracted by a technique called hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into rock formations to dislodge the gas. Done carelessly, the technique poses threats to water quality, local landscapes and the atmosphere that other states, including Pennsylvania, have failed to address adequately.

    That’s where the rules from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation come in. They must establish detailed safeguards for hydraulic fracturing and ensure regulatory oversight. The proposed rules have been months in the making but still need to be improved to better protect the environment and public health. Here are several concerns:

    URBAN WATER SUPPLIES The rules rightly forbid drilling inside the two major unfiltered watersheds serving New York City and Syracuse. But New York City officials warn that hydrofracturing outside the watershed boundaries could set off tiny subsurface shocks, cracking the aging tunnels that bring water to the city and allowing water to leak out of the tunnels and gas to seep in. The proposed rules would limit drilling within 1,000 feet of the tunnels; some experts believe that a setback of several miles will be necessary.

    HAZARDOUS WASTEWATER A federal panel found recently that the biggest risks arise from “flowback” — the huge volumes of water laced with naturally occurring toxic pollutants that drilling brings to the surface along with the natural gas. In Western states, these and other wastes are sometimes safely stored underground, but this may not be possible in New York’s geological formations. Sewage treatment plants are not equipped to handle these wastes, open pits are out of the question, and surface storage — even in airtight steel tanks — may be no more than a temporary solution. State officials concede that they don’t have an answer, but until they do, not a single well should be drilled.

    OVERSIGHT When fully operational in a decade, the industry could be drilling hundreds of wells a year. Two questions arise, neither addressed in the proposed regulations: First, who’s going to police all this activity? The minerals division of the Department of Environmental Conservation has fewer than 20 employees. Joe Martens, the commissioner, says he wants 140 more, but even that doesn’t sound like enough. Second, who’s going to pay for the regulatory machinery? The obvious answer is the industry, which is growing rapidly and can easily afford permit fees or a volumetric tax on the gas or both. The state needs to ensure an adequate financing stream dedicated to monitoring and enforcement.

    There are other issues that need meticulous examination. One is the danger of underground leaks of chemicals or methane gas. The Environmental Protection Agency reported on Thursday that wells in a remote valley in Wyoming may have been contaminated this way. Another issue is above-ground gas leaks that would add to global warming (methane is a potent greenhouse gas). Still another is what industry should be required to do to restore the landscape to its original condition after wells go dry.

    There is no reason to hurry the rule-making or the drilling. The only way New York can safely move ahead with hydrofracturing is by designing and executing a tough regulatory program that could also serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

  2. DRBC CANCELS NOVEMBER 21ST VOTE

    YOU DID IT. YOU WON.

    All of your calls. All of your emails. Your pledges to swarm the DRBC in Trenton on November 21st.

    All of your pressure and all of your strength.

    You stopped fracking in the Delaware River Basin for now. You won this round. It is not a complete victory but it is a huge victory. You brought us back from the brink of total devastation.

    What cancellation means: The DRBC doesn’t hold a meeting to vote down their regulations. I’ve only ever seen them vote to approve things. Which means they would cancel the meeting if they no longer had 3 out of 5 commissioners voting in favor of fracking. Which is exactly what they have done. They don’t cancel meetings often, let alone votes. Your voice made a tremendous difference. I am humbled proud and beyond thankful.

    Of course, in my wildest dreams, I would have hoped that the DRBC would outlaw fracking in the River Basin permanently and forever and we could all have an icy Thanksgiving canoeing party down the Delaware next week. This is not a complete victory by any means. We still do not know when the DRBC will reschedule their meeting. Could be ten days, could be a month, could be a year. So stay tuned and stay ready. We will let you know. We will have many more battles before we stop fracking completely in the Delaware River Basin and throughout the nation and the world.

    But this will still be the best thanksgiving I’ve had in my house for years, and I am incredibly thankful for all of you. You did this. It was you and the threat of you showing up in massive numbers that did this.

    You saved the Delaware, for now.

    The Governor of Delaware has said he will vote no on fracking the Delaware. Read the story here. But that couldn’t have done it all. Something MUST have happened in New Jersey or with the Obama Administration. It could have been all of your calls and emails to Joe Biden. We’ll find out more in the coming days.

    This was a concerted effort by so many groups, in so many places. From the local organizations Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Delaware Riverkeeper, Catskill Mountainkeeper, NYH2O, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Protecting our Waters and others to the Big Greens, EWG, Earth Justice, NRDC, FOod and Water Watch, Sierra Club, to the brilliant and passionate groups working for Climate Justice 350.org, Peaceful Uprising and of course, Tar Sands Action.

    We will continue to fight for the Delaware River. We will continue to make our voices heard to the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and to President Obama and Vice President Biden.

    We will have another email in a few hours or tomorrow morning with details and next steps. We will still hold trainings Nov 20th. We may refocus the rally on the 21st to keep up the momentum of our campaign.

    We must turn our attention now to the rest of Pennsylvania, and the rest of the nation where fracking is still running rampant and we must make sure we keep up our vigilance and focus.

    Please pledge along with me that you will continue to fight, that you will continue to show up to events and that you will continue to follow the next steps of this amazing coalition that has assembled to fight fracking.

    We will still be holding our 1st Amendment peaceful action trainings on November 20th. I am encouraging you to attend. I will be attending the New York training myself. We need this training and we will re-focus on a new place, perhaps even on November 21. Please stay tuned.

    But for now, enjoy this. And this Thanksgiving, be just a bit more thankful for yourself and all the others who have worked so hard in this phase of our campaign to save the Delaware.

    All my love and respect.
    Josh Fox
    and the whole GASLAND team

  3. NEW STUDY ON SHALE GAS

    In the August 18, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal, Fred Krupp has an editorial titled “The Smart Path for the Shale Gas Revolution.” In March of this year, Energy Secretary Steven Chu appointed a group of energy and environmental experts to study the issue. Mr. Krupp is a member of that committee and speaks about the industry’s credibility problem. In 2000 shale gas accounted for 1% of our natural gas supply. Today it is about 25% and growing. While that should be good news from an environmental perspective, natural gas development has come under intense pressure from the public because of the impact on air and groundwater as well as fears about the management and disposal of wastewater (million gallons each well). The carbon advantage is also being questioned.

    This panel investigated and deliberated for 90 days. Both supporters who told how the gas had provided an economic lifeline and people for whom this industry had made life a nightmare were heard. One woman was forced to leave her farm and was living out of her car because her son had become increasingly ill since the drilling started.

    Mr. Krupp goes on to say that the industry must disclose the chemicals used to fracture shale and provide data on methane leaks. The report further calls for new standards for well construction and wastewater management. There must be baseline data on water quality, disclosure of the composition of drilling wastewater, and careful measurement of air emissions. The report also calls for the natural gas industry to create a national organization with external stakeholders dedicated to best practices. He also says we must all agree that “everyone–no matter where they live–has a right to clean air and clean water.”

    Let’s hope this panel follows through.

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views that predominate here. Long rants proclaiming the infallibility of your own views or favorite ideology will not be posted, neither will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed, nor will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flame-baiting and name calling. Please indicate precisely what you are blogging about. I just got a post from ? E-Mail ? which said: "Is this going to be OUR furture??. I have no idea what they were referring to and no way to contact them. This is why we prefer comments that are signed by actual persons who leave their E-Mail address (it won't be published) so they can be contacted if questions arise.

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