Environmental groups from across the country have signed on to a petition asking the EPA to include the oil and gas industry in a national database of chemical releases. The Toxics Release Inventory requires companies to report the quantity of chemicals that end up in the air, water, land, landfills, and treatment facilities. Congress established the TRI in 1986 as a reaction to the 1984 Bhopal disaster, where a gas leak at a Union Carbide plant killed several thousand people. The TRI maintains a database on more than 650 chemical releases, which can be searched by zip code. But the EPA does not require the oil and gas industry to report their releases.
The Environmental Integrity Project submitted the petition with the support of 16 other groups, including PennEnvironment, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. Environmental Integrity Project director Eric Schaeffer says the TRI is an important part of the nation’s Right-to-Know laws.
“That makes it easier for communities to measure the environmental impact of local industries, motivates companies to reduce their emissions, and gives all of us insight into how well our environmental laws are working,” said Schaeffer.
Schaeffer says the EPA estimates the oil and gas industry release 127,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants every year. These include benzene, xylenes, and hydrogen sulfide.
The Toxics Release Inventory is just one of several exemptions to granted the gas industry when it comes to environmental regulations. The industry is also exempt from segments of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. For more on those exemptions, click here.