A coalition of advocacy groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for public access to information on toxic chemicals released by the energy industry through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other forms of oil and gas drilling.
Fracking involves the injection of water, chemicals and sand below ground to extract oil and gas from shale formations. The process has been criticized as environmentally dangerous, even as its use has driven U.S. natural gas production to new highs amid litigation across the U.S.
Today’s lawsuit, filed in Washington federal court, follows a petition by the 10 groups to the regulator in 2012 seeking a rule that would require oil and gas companies to disclose such pollution to a government database.
“Because federal and state disclosure requirements are full of gaps and exemptions and otherwise have not kept pace with industry expansion, public information about the oil and gas extraction industry’s use and release of these toxic chemicals remains scant,” Adam Kron, a lawyer for the Environmental Integrity Project, wrote in the complaint.
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The need for disclosure is particularly pressing now because the boom in fracking has increased the variety and volume of toxic chemicals released into the air, ground and water, according to the lawsuit.
The environmental and open government groups bringing the suit want the EPA to require that oil and gas companies join coal mines, electric utilities and other industries in reporting deadly chemicals used or released to the Toxic Release Inventory database.
More than 400 measures to prevent or control fracking have been passed by U.S. cities and counties according to Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental advocacy group.
While New York’s highest court ruled in June that the state’s municipalities can ban the practice, a voter-enacted prohibition in Longmont, Colorado, was struck down by a state court judge in July.