EPA Proposed Rules May Require Companies to Disclose Information about Fracking Chemicals

Gas Drilling Public LandsThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) that may require companies to disclose information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, Law 360 reports. The agency is calling for public comment on the proposed rules, which are intended to develop an ideal approach for obtaining data on fracking chemical substances and mixtures. The EPA said it would ponder its options under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and consider both mandatory and voluntary measures. After the official ANPR is published in the Federal Register, the EPA will collect public comments for 90 days.

EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention James Jones said that the ANPR was an important step in raising public awareness about fracking chemicals. “EPA looks forward to hearing from the public and stakeholders about public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, and we will continue working with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to ensure that we complement but not duplicate existing reporting requirements,” Jones stated.

“This mechanism could be regulatory (under TSCA Section 8(a) and/or Section 8(d)), voluntary, or a combination of both, and could include best management practices, third-party certification and collection, and incentives for disclosure of this information,” the notice read.

The EPA stated that it wanted information about chemicals and mixtures in fracking to be “provided to the public in a transparent fashion,” the ANPR said. The agency also wants public comment on this information that should be revealed and the means used for getting that information. According to the ANPR, the data that might be mandated could include identity, quantities, types and circumstances of uses of chemical substances and mixtures used; health and safety studies may also be required, the ANPR stated.

The EPA issued a Federal Register notice stating its intention of publishing an ANPR in July 2013. In August 2011, an environmental coalition that includes Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the agency for regulations that would require toxicity testing for fracking chemicals.

The NRDC says that the ANPR should just be the beginning in efforts to raise public awareness about fracking dangers.  “For too long, the oil and gas industry has been allowed to keep their chemical cocktails a secret, while injecting them underground alongside drinking water sources, storing them in families’ backyards and transporting them through neighborhood streets,” an NRDC attorney said. “Even emergency room doctors have been refused answers necessary to treat patients who have been exposed to fracking chemicals.”

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