Wyoming First State to Require Chemicals Disclosure for Natural Gas Drilling

by | Sep 17, 2010

Wyoming has implemented new rules that require natural gas drillers to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, but fall short of full transparency, according to two citizen groups.

Under the new Wyoming rules companies must submit to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission a complete list of chemicals they plan to use in hydraulic fracturing or fracking operations on a well-by-well basis, and report on their chemical concentrations when the job is completed, reports ProPublica.

“This is the toughest disclosure rule on the books, but the devil’s in the details. Governor Freudenthal and the oil and gas commission have taken a strong first step with fracking disclosure. But we still need legislation to protect citizens in every natural gas drilling state and prevent drilling companies from trying to keep chemicals used in oil and gas drilling, fracking and production secret,” said Deb Thomas, an organizer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council, in a press release.

The citizens groups say fracking is suspected of polluting groundwater in Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and other states. Earlier this month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned some residents of Pavillion, Wyo., not to drink from private water wells after tests found hydrocarbons, methane and high sodium that may have come from fracking operations, say the groups.

EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project and Powder River Basin Resource Council are urging Congress to pass legislation that all Americans have the right to know about hazardous drilling chemicals that could contaminate water supplies.

In June 2009, two companion Senate and House bills, called the FRAC ACT — Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, amending the Safe Drinking Water Act (H.R. 2776 and S. 1215) — were introduced to repeal the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the U.S.’s safe drinking water law. The legislation would require them to disclose the chemicals they use in their hydraulic fracturing processes.

In March, the EPA launched a $1.9-million research study into the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing, used in the extraction of natural gas, on water quality and public health.

 The EPA also wrapped up a series of public meetings on hydraulic fracking this week. The agency is currently urging companies for more information about the chemicals used in fracking, which they say are trade secrets, reports ProPublica.

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