The Interior Department should be commended for modernizing rules that were last updated in 1988 — in particularly for creating new provisions that strengthen the government’s ability to regulate the construction and oversight of wells. However, the rule lacks a handful of basic public right-to-know measures.
It would require natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals being used after the fracking has taken place, not beforehand. This makes baseline testing of water quality nearly impossible, as local communities will be unable to know what exactly to test for. As Center for American Progress Chairman and Counselor John Podesta put it:
“Disclosure after the fact not only jeopardizes public health but effectively cuts the public out of discussions that affect their communities.”
Additionally, the Interior Department is “working with” the Groundwater Protection Council to determine whether the actual public listing of chemicals can be done on its FracFocus.org website. The Groundwater Protection Council is comprised of state oil and gas regulators, who often find themselves both promoting drilling and policing it. A recent investigation by Greenwire found that 40% of state oil and gas regulators have financial ties to the industry.
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