Right to Information

Right to Information

Certain laws exist that make it mandatory for regulators and operators of fracking activities to post information under various circumstances. These instances are listed below and are the rights of every citizen to be informed.

Michigan

  • Surface owners in areas where a permit was granted must be provided with the first page of the permit, as does the County Clerk.
  • The following information from a permit must be provided to anyone upon request from the Supervisor of Wells (fitchh@michigan.gov) including:
    • proposed location
    • geologic formation
    • name and number of well
    • name and address of applicant
    • depth
    • surface owner
    • presence of hydrogen sulfide
  • This information is also available to the general public at this website:
  • Affected landowners must be given notice when a legislative body considers a special use permit.
  • Citizens must be informed of plans by the State to sell/transfer ownership of publicly owned gas rights. Information about which State owned gas right that are nominated for auction can be found here. The public must be notified via newspaper of general circulation if the rights are being sold/transferred to the surface owner.
  • Any citizen has the right to inspect or copy records, with the exception of trade secrets, through the Freedom of Information Act.  If access to records is denied, citizens can appeal to the head of the state agency which has the records or through the court system.
  • State agencies are required to publish most records in some form. If the agency fails to do so, citizens can file a lawsuit to force disclosure.

Ohio

  • Any concerned citizen can keep informed of approved drilling permits.  The Ohio Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management must post notice of approved permits within two days of approval on their website.
  • Anyone can stay informed on public lands that may be leased for oil and gas exploration. However, such leases are subject to minimal public input. The lands that are nominated for lease are listed on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.
  • Anyone can keep informed on when there are “material and substantial” violations of the Oil and Gas Law.  The Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management must post all violations of the law on its website.
  • Concerned citizens can seek information on the materials used in fracking operations.  Some of the chemicals used by the operator are listed on the Ohio Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management website.
  • Some substances that are considered a “trade secret” are not required to be disclosed.

Pennsylvania

  • A map of the location of new or altered wells in an area must be provided in the following instances:
    • To surface owners where a conventional (easy to extract) well is potentially located
    • To surface owners and water purveyors within 1000 feet of proposed conventional well
    • To surface owners and water purveyors within 3000 feet of proposed unconventional (difficult to extract) well
    • To municipalities where a proposed conventional well is located
    • To municipalities where a proposed unconventional well is located
  • Surface owners and local governments where a well is located must be informed within 24 hours of the start of drilling.
  • Where drinking water supplies were contaminated by a spill from drilling operations, the general public must be notified after the Department has investigated.
  • All inspection reports from fracking operations are required to be publicly disclosed on the internet, including violations, operator responses, and current status of violations.
  • Unconventional well operators must file a semi-annual reports showing production levels and made publicly available on the Department’s website.
  • There must be public disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process unless they are protected by trade secrets. If protected by trade secrets, disclosure of chemical families is required. Disclosure needs to be made to the Department within 60 days of the conclusion of fracking. However, the Department can use their discretion to make exempt information publicly available.
  • The Department must maintain a publicly searchable website with a registry of chemical information from fracking operations.
  • Reports regarding water withdrawals should be publicly available. This applies mainly to operations with a total watershed withdrawal exceeding an average of 10,000 gallons per day in a 30 day period.

Stay Informed

Connect With us

@FreshwaterFutur

© 2020 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.