Published: October 24, 2012
By: Environmental Integrity Project, Earthworks, and others
From the petition:
Dear Administrator Jackson:
Pursuant to section 313(b)(1)(B) of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to- Know Act (“EPCRA”) and section 553(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act, the Environmental Integrity Project, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, CitizenShale, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Earthworks, Elected Officials to Protect New York, Environmental Advocates of New York, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council, OMB Watch, PennEnvironment, Powder River Basin Resource Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Sierra Club, and Texas Campaign for the Environment (collectively “Petitioners”) hereby petition the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to initiate rulemaking to add the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry, identified by Standard Industrial Classification Code 13 (“SIC Code 13”) and various North American Industry Classification System (“NAICS”) codes,1 to the list of facilities required to report releases of toxic chemicals listed under the Toxics Release Inventory (“TRI”) of EPCRA
In the last decade alone, the number of wells, storage tanks, production, and processing facilities within the oil and gas extraction industry has increased dramatically, and the variety of toxic chemicals manufactured, processed, or otherwise used by the industry has expanded significantly.2 Meanwhile, public information about the use and releases of these chemicals remains scant, given that federal and state disclosure requirements are extremely limited, full of gaps and exemptions, and have not kept pace with these industry expansions.
EPA recently estimated that oil and gas extraction operations release nearly 130,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants every year, equivalent to thirty percent of the total released by all industries that report their emissions to the Toxics Release Inventory today, and more than any other sector except power plants. EPA’s recent onsite investigations have found significant releases to groundwater: in Pavillion, Wyoming, samples included synthetic toxic chemicals that could be linked directly to natural gas production uses and benzene forty-nine times above the drinking water MCL; and in Dimock, Pennsylvania, samples detected TRI-listed chemicals in every single drinking water well, including forty-six different chemicals, and with an average of twenty detections per well. Surface water releases are also significant, as wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove radioactive materials and bromide salts, the latter of which may react to form toxic trihalomethanes when processed by drinking water treatment facilities. And the industry’s informational and regulatory gaps are becoming apparent with respect to land disposal, as landfills are encountering increasing shipments of hazardous, radioactive, and unknown wastes.
The communities that host this rapidly growing industry have the right to know what is being released to their environment. There is little question that the oil and gas extraction industry should be reporting its releases, as chemical manufacturers, power plants, refineries, and other sectors have had to do for many years.
As explained in detail below, it is clear that EPA has the legal authority to require the oil and gas extraction industry to report its releases to the TRI, based on statutory provisions under section 313 of EPCRA, and that the industry readily meets EPA’s three factors for addition of a new industrial sector to the TRI.