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More states require disclosure of chemicals in fracking fluid

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Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
 

Colorado and Texas have joined Pennsylvania in adopting rules requiring drilling companies to disclose the concentrations of all chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, the controversial procedure that injects millions of gallons underground to free natural gas and oil.

The guidelines that Colorado's regulators approved Tuesday are similar to those required by a law passed in Texas this year but go further by requiring the concentrations of chemicals to be disclosed. Colorado's rule takes effect in April.

Pennsylvania has regulations in place requiring drillers to disclose on a well-by-well basis the additives and chemicals used in fracturing fluid injected deep underground into oil and natural gas wells.

The state Department of Environmental Protection's website lists 70 chemicals and additives companies commonly use in fracking fluid, but it does not post on its website the hydraulic fluid contents used at specific wells or by the companies that supply the drillers with fracking fluid.

Some of that information is disclosed on the FracFocus.org website. But those seeking that specific information on the chemicals used in a well must get such a report at the Department of Environmental Protection's regional offices. The agency's office on Washington's Landing in Pittsburgh covers 10 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties.

In the case of Colorado, drillers claiming that the fluid's contents are a trade secret, still will have to disclose the ingredient's chemical family.

In Texas, companies must list the chemicals on a national registry, www.fracfocus.org , beginning Feb. 1.

The Texas Railroad Commission adopted rules yesterday to enforce a law passed by that state's legislature.

Texas will require companies to disclose chemicals but not concentrations. Other states, such as Colorado, require disclosure of concentrations.

Arkansas, Montana and Wyoming all require companies to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid but not their concentrations, said Matt Watson, senior energy policy manager for the Environmental Defense Fund. Louisiana and New Mexico require disclosure of only some chemicals deemed workplace hazards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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