Full transparency on chemical disclosure
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there is an out of state group creating confusion about Ohio’s chemical disclosure process as it specifically relates to oil and gas development. It is unfortunate that some will try to use fear, uncertainty and doubt to cause panic about an important issue that is known, transparent and resolved. So, let me clear up some misconceptions that this group is claiming.
Over five years ago, in 2012, when shale development was just beginning to take off, the Governor signed Senate Bill 315 which provided to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) the ability to access any chemical information they would need in the event of an incident. The bill requires chemical disclosure during all aspects of the initial drilling process, as well as during the process of hydraulic fracturing.
These proprietary mixtures of hydraulic fracturing fluid are much like a list of baking ingredients. Each company has their own series of formulas, as different mixtures help stimulate the rock formations in different ways. It’s like what soda pop do you drink? Some people prefer one brand over another
Since there are differing mixtures, a first responder has the ability in current law to find out what chemicals have been used, just not the recipe. It’s the recipe that is proprietary, not the chemicals themselves — this is necessary information for all first responders to have access to. If the ODNR did not have certain chemical information on file, then they could request the proprietary chemical formulas to conduct an investigation or in case of a spill.
Disclosure under Ohio law also goes beyond the regulators and first responders to include the medical community. Doctors, while treating a patient who may have health concerns related to an oil and gas incident, may have access to proprietary chemical information to treat their patient.
Additionally, there are existing rules and regulations at both the federal and state levels regarding proprietary chemicals. For those in the public that may also have questions, they can go online to a national website run jointly by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission called FracFocus. There they will find lists of chemicals associated with wells all across the country.
Chemicals play a vital role in the exploration and production of a well, from limiting the progression of bacteria to preventing corrosion of the well casing. A majority of these chemicals can be found in products under your sink at home or even in your laundry room.
However, groups like this try and capitalize on the general public’s lack of awareness of very specific environmental laws in an effort to push their own agendas. In this case, their “fear” must be labeled for what it is: false information with no facts to back it up. Ohio has one of the most stringent regulatory programs for chemical disclosure in the nation. We can’t let out of state groups pushing fear into our communities get away with spreading falsehoods just to try to further their agenda.