EPA Mulling Fracking Disclosure Rules

by | May 13, 2014

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gaswellThe EPA has taken the first step towards requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use during hydraulic fracturing operations.

The agency last week opened public comment period on the subject to determine how the information could be obtained. This mechanism could be regulatory, voluntary, or a combination of both and could include best management practices, third-party certification and collection, and incentives for disclosure of this information, according to EPA documents.

In 2011, a coalition of public health, environmental, and good government groups filed a petition demanding that full health and safety information be made available to the EPA for all of the chemicals used in oil and gas development, including fracking. The announcement is in response to that petition.

Environmental groups have been pressuring the agency to implement disclosure rules for years, according to Fuelfix.com. But drillers fear that by reporting propriety mixes of chemicals they could be ceding too much information to competitors, reports Reuters.

The agency is also seeking input on possible incentives and recognition programs that could support the development and use of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing.

In April, oil and gas industry supplier Baker Hughes announced plans to disclose all chemicals used in its hydraulic fracturing fluids.

The company says it is committed to full disclosure and says it’s possible to disclose 100 percent of chemicals used “without compromising our formulations — a balance that increases public trust while encouraging commercial innovation.”

The company also endorsed FracFocus, a national fracking chemical registry managed by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Launched in 2011, the voluntary registry shows fracking chemical additives on a well-by-well basis. A study published last year by the Harvard Environmental Law Program’s Policy Initiative, however, cited “serious deficiencies” in the disclosures.

Picture Credit: Natural gas wellheads in a plowed cornfield via ShutterStock

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