The state of Texas is considering a bill that would require natural gas drillers to disclose the ingredients of the fracking fluid that is used in hydraulic fracturing. According to the Star-Telegram, the Texas fracking fluid disclosure bill is supported by both environmentalists and the natural gas drilling industry.
Fracking, which involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals into shale deposits under high pressure to release natural gas, is generally exempt from regulation under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, the federal government does not require natural gas drillers to disclose the ingredients in their fracking fluid, and most regulation of hydraulic fracturing is left up to individual states.
As concerns over the environmental damage that could be caused by fracking have grown, environmentalists and other industry critics have ramped up calls that drillers be required to disclose the make-up of fracking fluids. As we’ve reported previously, Wyoming has started requiring drillers to list the name and concentration of each of the chemicals used in each well drilled there. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, which lies in the heart of the natural gas rich Marcellus shale, similar rules have been written, but still must be approved by the state legislature. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the House Energy and Commerce Committee both initiated investigations of fracking and sought such information from the industry. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar raised the prospect of requiring chemical disclosure from drillers on federal lands.
In the U.S. Congress, a group of Senators reintroduced the FRAC Act this week, which would not only require disclosure of fracking fluid chemicals, but would also end the exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act. This is the third time the FRAC Act has been introduced in Congress, having been defeated on previous occasions due to heavy industry lobbying.
According to the Star-Telegram, the Texas fracking fluid disclosure bill was introduced by a Republican state legislator, and is sponsored by two more Republicans and two Democrats. It also has the backing of Southwestern Energy, a large independent natural gas and oil producer based in Houston, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas League of Conservation Voters.
According to a report from SCNTX.com, HB 3328 would require frackers to disclose all of the base fluids, additives and chemical constituents to the Texas Railroad Commission, unless the identity of the constituent is allowed by law to be withheld as a trade secret.
The Star-Telegram reports that if HB 3328 is adopted by the Texas legislature, the new regulations would go into effect on September 1.