In this biting Wall Street Journal editorial, Mark Brownstein, chief counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy Program, criticizes current natural gas production methods and calls for full disclosure on fracking chemicals, greater corporate responsibility and increased environmental standards.
It is long past time to require energy producers to fully disclose the chemicals used in the fluids for fracturing shale. Citizens are justifiably concerned about these industrial materials, which are being used in proximity to their homes and water supplies. Producers insist that their chemical cocktails are safe, but their claims cannot be verified because the industry withholds that information. People get the distinct impression that the industry has something to hide.
Building trust is crucial, and it begins with transparency. Tapping our nation’s plentiful natural-gas reserves requires drilling wells in rural communities and suburban neighborhoods previously untouched by energy production. People are anxious about having a large, new industrial activity right next door. They expect natural gas producers to do the right thing. Requiring producers to disclose the chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluid should be a no-brainer.
Avoiding spills is not rocket science. Properly constructing and operating wells is a highly technical enterprise, but most natural-gas producers know how to do it. Too many are simply failing to achieve consistently good performance.
Read the full article on WSJ.com here.