A Wyoming landowners' group and other advocacy groups filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday asking for full disclosure of chemicals emitted from oil and gas production.
The alliance of 17 organizations, including the Wyoming-based Powder River Basin Resource Council, asked the EPA to mandate oil and gas extractors annually disclose chemicals released to the air, ground, water and other areas.
The petition includes hydraulic fracturing, a production technique used to free underground oil and gas deposits.
The requested rule change would not alter current emissions limits or permit requirements.
"It’s a human right for people to know that they’re going to be raising people in an area that’s safe," said Deb Thomas, an organizer for the council. "We need to know what we’re living with and be able to make informed decisions."
Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, a national environmental law advocacy group coordinating the petition, said Wednesday there's no reason why oil and gas producers shouldn't already have to disclose which chemicals they release.
"It’s clear based on toxic air emissions alone that oil and gas belongs on the list of industries that ought to report," he said in a conference call.
Carlton Carroll, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, declined to comment on the petition. He said the oil and gas trade group is reviewing the document but won't offer reaction until they've analyzed it.
The petition asks that producers be required to publicly report which chemicals were released to the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory. Congress enacted the inventory program in 1986 to require industrial facilities to disclose which chemicals were released each year, but didn't include the oil and gas industry under the program's influence.
Congress later expanded the inventory to include coal and other types of mining and power generation. But oil and gas extraction have yet to make the list of TRI-covered industries.
The EPA already requires producers to report some emissions, but Schaeffer said the coalition's request would broaden what must be reported and make the information collected more accessible for the public.
Adam Kron, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, said oil and gas drilling's recent proliferation makes the possible rule change more necessary.
"In Pennsylvania, for example, we’ve got sites with 170 wells in three miles," he said.
Schaeffer said the the alliance is trying to raise public awareness, not force a negative regulation on industry. The program's inception didn't force organizations with excessive emissions numbers to close, he said, and some companies have even taken pride in their decline.
"The fact that you file a report does not mean that the next day you close the plant," he said. "The point is to put that information out there so people can make their own judgments."