Shaking Things Up in Marcellus: Drilling Company Announces Voluntary Disclosure of Chemicals

You never know what is going to happen next in the Marcellus Shale!  You may recall that we listed the Upper Delaware and Monongahela Rivers on our list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ this year, due to the threat of natural gas extraction.  One of the actions we are asking for is passage of the FRAC Act, which would require full disclosure of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. 

Well, this past Wednesday, Range Resources, one of the companies drilling in the Marcellus, announced that it will voluntarily disclose the chemicals that it is using at each well site on the internet for the public to see! 

Currently, the industry is divided on whether or not to follow suit.  So far, no one else has made that same commitment.  This move by Range is a big deal because it could change the game that is being played over this chemical disclosure issue.  It is particularly significant because Range, one of the dominant drillers in the area, was the first company to drill and complete a well in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.

One reason speculated for this decision is that Range is hoping to prove that federal regulation of the natural gas industry is not necessary.  This, of course, leads us back to the FRAC Act, which would additionally repeal the natural gas industry’s exemptions from the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and other laws enacted to protect our health and drinking water supplies.  Basically, it makes the oil and gas industry subject to the same environmental laws as everyone else.  (Why shouldn’t they be?)  Passage of the FRAC Act is also important to guarantee that all companies disclose their chemical use so that people know what to look for when trying to determine if their water has been contaminated.

On a related note, I saw the documentary Gasland this week, and it was great (and also very upsetting)!   I know that the industry has produced a debunking report of the movie.  However, Josh Fox, the Director, has debunked the debunk!  If you have HBO, you should definitely check out Gasland!  Either way, TAKE ACTION!