Associated Press: Pa. industry group to disclose drilling chemicals

PITTSBURGH — Members of the leading Marcellus Shale industry group in Pennsylvania will voluntarily disclose chemicals used in each natural gas well as of Jan. 1, the organization said. An environmental group applauded the move, but said it’s not enough.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition represents many of the largest gas drillers in Pennsylvania. The drillers use a process called fracking, which forces millions of gallons of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, deep into shale formations to free the gas.

The industry believes the process is safe, but environmental groups and people who live in drilling areas have worried about the exact chemicals used in each well, and the possibility of groundwater contamination.

Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus coalition, said that the full disclosure was an “obvious choice” that the group’s members had no problem supporting. The disclosure will be mandatory for members, who will list the chemicals used in each well on the website FracFocus.org.

“You want to make sure the transparency is worked in to everything we do,” Klaber said.

The state of Pennsylvania already requires drillers to list all chemicals used in drilling on a website. But that doesn’t tell people what’s being used in a specific well near them.

Klaber said the group wanted to go beyond what the state requires.

Jan Jarrett, president of the environmental group PennFuture, said she applauds the decision by the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing for them to voluntarily do it,” Jarrett said.

But Jarrett said that is no protection against firms that aren’t members of the coalition, which companies join voluntarily.

“This is a matter of public policy. And it’s really a proper role of government to set these kinds of rules,” Jarrett said. She called for the state to make the disclosure of chemicals used in each well mandatory for all drillers.

NOTE: Click HERE to view this story online.