Regulators' endless devotion to fracking industry will cost Ohioans in money, health
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resource Management has once again demonstrated its complete fealty to the fracking industry.
It has done so by its continuing failure to propose rules to appropriately protect the environment and public health from the consequences of the irresponsible handling, processing and disposal of toxic, radioactive frack waste.
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Instead of addressing the serious issues arising from the disastrous federal failure to regulate through the “Halliburton Loophole,” thereby falsely classifying frack waste as “non-hazardous,” the division fails to address the problems this entails, although it has seen enough of the serious issues the lack of regulation has caused.
Even the courts have not demanded the agency do needed rulemaking, and our citizen’s case lost on standing only – not on the merits.
We even appealed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revoke primacy because the agency was not properly protecting citizens from the harms of the lack of regulation.
Without recourse, we waited over 8 years for the division to propose rules that would effectively address the mishandling and toxic releases from frack waste processing and disposal.
The agency obviously has no intention to deal with this serious issue as evidenced by its most recent attempt at rulemaking by proffering totally inadequate rules with public review and comment closed in only 30 days ending Nov. 29, just after a holiday.
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The very little time to engage, educate and formulate responses to the substantial deficiencies in the proposed rules substantiates our continued experience that the agency does not genuinely want public input to counter its support of the fracking industry by allowing cheap disposal of its massive amounts of toxic waste.
To be most expeditious in the flawed process, the division combined the review and commenting process for two totally different waste handling/disposal schemes, Class II injection wells and Surface Waste Processing Facilities, into one.
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By now, the division has enough evidence to realize the serious deficiencies in the proposed regulations that deserve separate scrutiny.
Frack waste facilities are handling millions of tons of frack waste with inadequate traceability of where the resultant concentrations of toxic chemicals and radionuclides go to assure proper disposal and accountability for those generating the waste.
Historically, both types of facilities lack adequate monitoring and oversight, which will not be addressed in the proposed regulations. This ruse of rulemaking process is just another example of industry capture of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Our elected representatives are letting this happen, and Ohio taxpayers will pick up the bill, just as we are paying already to remediate leaking frack waste injection wells and cap abandoned wells.
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In addition to the lack of adequate bonding and severance taxes assessed the fracking industry, Ohio is giving the industry another massive subsidy in the completely inadequate rules proposed by the Division of Oil and Gas Resource Management.
Ohioans will pay with their health and tax dollars for the continuing designation of the state as the cheap dumping ground for frack waste generated within the state and imported from other states, solving the industry’s biggest problem at our expense.
Leatra Harper is co-founder of FreshWater Accountability Project . She has a graduate degree in organization development and is a former contract administrator, small business owner and college instructor.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Oil and gas agency turns blind eye to harm from frack waste