Texas regulators are set to pass rules on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling in the state which would require as close to full-disclosure of the process.
New York Times reports proposed rules from Texas state officials would require a record amount of disclosure on the chemicals and fresh water used in the fracking process. As dangerous as the chemicals used in the fracking process are, Texas may be more concerned about the amount of fresh water used due to the state’s persistent droughts.
An official with the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association told New York Times as much as 5 million gallons of fresh water are used at one fracking well in a week’s time. During particularly dry summer months in Texas, the water used in fracking could put a strain on the natural resource.
The requirement to disclose the amount of water being used at a fracking well is mandatory. Some experts cited in the report believe as much as 40 percent of a rural Texas community’s fresh water supplies could be taken by the fracking process by 2020.
The report does not indicate if companies which use the fracking process to get natural gas from underground shale must disclose all the chemicals they use, including the most toxic which are often hidden from the public by natural gas companies under the cloak of “trade secrets.” The Times reports each active fracking well must report “most of the chemicals” used.
In addition to the mandatory order to report all water used in the fracking process, the lead author of those rules and head of the Texas Water Development Board said the state must increase monitoring of water already used at active well sites. The state admits it is “dead last” in monitoring the contents of fracking waste water, despite a growing number of reports nationwide from other states where the drilling process is used of its toxic qualities and the problems encountered with either disposing it or treating it and attempting to remove its toxic qualities.
Fracking uses tremendous amounts of fresh water, sand, a drill and a mix of at least 600 chemicals – including 60 known toxins – injected at high pressure through an underground well until it reaches underground shale formations. The drilling mixture then rushes to the surface where it should be collected and either stored or disposed of in an underground well.
Fracking waste water has been blamed for thousands of minor earthquakes in Arkansas, California, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia where the drilling fluid is injected into underground wells. In states which attempt to filter the harmful contents of fracking waste water at treatment facilities, they are finding the removal of those toxins is a difficult and costly process.
Texas’ attempt at regulations is aimed to deflect pressure from environmental advocates who push for stricter rules on the fracking process, especially in the absence of federal rules.