Zack Malitz is an online organizer for waterdefense.org – Governor Kasich promised the people of Ohio a comprehensive chemical disclosure bill that protects the health, safety and property of Ohio citizens. Instead, the bill that the governor helped maneuver through the Senate last week is chock full of loopholes large enough to drive a tanker filled with frack fluid through.
Senate Bill 315 (SB 315) does technically require fracking companies to disclose many of the chemicals they use to drill wells to the Ohio government. But the bill also includes a ‘trade secrets’ loophole allowing drilling companies to assert that their chemical cocktails are trade secrets. The Ohio government is barred from disclosing chemicals designated as trade secrets to the public.
Ohio citizens have no way of contesting whether a company’s frack fluid formula is really a trade secret. As a result, the Senate’s bill gives the fracking industry total freedom to decide which chemicals to disclose to the public.
The law even gets between patients and their doctors. The bill empowers doctors to obtain access to chemical disclosure records in the case of a medical emergency – say, if a gas worker is poisoned by frack fluid. But doctors who learn what’s in frack fluid aren’t allowed to tell anyone, including their patients.
In cases where drilling companies do decide to disclose frack chemicals, they aren’t required to disclose them until after they’ve already completed drilling, which prevents concerned landowners from ordering baseline water testing prior to drilling. Baseline water testing is the first line of defense against water contamination because it establishes a firm foundation for a lawsuit if gas drilling poisons an aquifer or well. Without it, there’s nothing to stop the gas industry from asserting that water contamination is naturally occurring.
If SB 315 becomes law it will guarantee that fracking in Ohio remains a lawless, Wild West-style operation that endangers the lives of people across the state. That’s why it’s so important to gather in Columbus June 14-17, pack the statehouse, and show Ohio’s lawmakers what real energy reform looks like.
Read more about SB 315: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/05/gov_john_kasichs_proposed_frac.html