Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pennsylvania DEP scrapping FracFocus for state-run database

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley said the agency will phase out use of FracFocus—an online registry that allows companies to list the chemicals they use during fracking—and require "companies to disclose electronically the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing in a new state-run database," Katelyn Ferral reports for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Quigley said the new database will be more comprehensive and user-friendly.

"DEP's database will be based on a disclosure form that separates the list of chemicals and trade names, which the department hopes will encourage drillers to disclose more," Ferral writes. Companies will be required to begin submitting records in March 2016, and the database is expected to be available for use by next summer. Quigley said the plan is to "eventually integrate the records into a mapping system. Computer users would be able to click on a dot on a map and see all of the information for that well, including fracking chemicals used, inspection records and production reports submitted to DEP."

Quigley said that "DEP studied FracFocus' effectiveness last year and decided it did not allow users to download data sets and search for specific information easily," Ferral writes. Quigley told her, "We think we can do even better." (Read more)

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