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Kasich Joins Push To Give Fracking Ingredients To First Responders
Big changes could be coming to Ohioâ€™s fracking regulations in terms of chemical disclosure.
Itâ€™s a transparency issue environmental groups have been pushing to advance for years, and it appears another step is in the works following a major chemical spill.
Late last month a large fire broke out at a hydraulic fracturingâ€”or frackingâ€”pad in Monroe County. According to a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyâ€”fire crews doused the site with more than 300,000 gallons of waterâ€”forcing nearly a dozen drilling-related chemicals to runoff the site.
Several of those chemicals were then discovered in a nearby creek where, as the report explains, more than 70,000 fish were killed along a five-mile stretch of the creek.
In responding to the fire in Monroe Countyâ€”Gov. John Kasich says it might be time to change laws again to make sure all first-responders have more access to all the chemical information.
â€œCause we do haveâ€”Iâ€™m toldâ€”the most transparent of all the fracking liquid in the country. But if itâ€™s not getting to enough people then we need to widen it. Because I donâ€™t want to have people walking around saying â€˜well I donâ€™t know what was there,’” Kasich said late last week.
Companies are already required to provide a list of the chemicals used at the site. The only chemicals not on the list are those protected by trade rights, which are reported to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, urges that the drilling companies were compliant and disclosed all of their chemicalsâ€”even proprietary informationâ€”upon request. He adds that organizations such as the Ohio Medical Society are satisfied with the current chemical disclosure laws.
â€œThe people that really care about this stuff like doctors believe that they haveâ€”through their societyâ€”believe that they can get the access that they need. I think that whatâ€™s happening here is just another political gamesmanship.â€
Stewart adds that creating more access to trade secrets would stifle the industry and company innovation.
The Ohio Environmental Council has been calling for expanded access to chemical information since the fracking industry started to take off in the state.
Deputy Director Jack Shaner says the process could still be faster and that firefighters needed to know about the chemicals on the pad while they were rushing to the scene.
â€œYou know depending on what the chemicals are that helps guide the effective suppression of that fire. Whether to use foamâ€”to use waterâ€”other approaches to that fire,” Shaner says.
“They can predict how itâ€™s going to reactâ€”how it may flame upâ€”or how it plumesâ€”how air emissions will flow. Firefighters desperately need that information.â€
Kasich has said for years that heâ€™s for strong regulations while still preserving the industry.
â€œI mean I think itâ€™s absolutely critical that we protect this environment but we can protect it and still have a good business thatâ€™s employing lots of people in our state so these things are not taken lightlyâ€”theyâ€™re not swept under the rugâ€”theyâ€™re things we focus on.â€
The governor also said he wants to take a look at ways of improving the internal communication among his administration. Both the Ohio EPA and Department of Natural Resources were on the scene to help with the investigation and cleanup.
As the federal EPA releases information about the cleanupâ€”ODNR continues to investigate the fish kill and the cause of the fire.