Fracking Disclosure to Rise
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Ben Casselman (6/20/11)
"Industry vocally supports increased disclosure bill."
The natural-gas industry, bowing to longtime pressure, will disclose more information about the chemicals it uses in the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing.
On Friday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a bill that will require companies to make public the chemicals they use on every hydraulic fracturing job in the state. While a handful of other states have passed similar measures, Texas's law is significant because oil and gas drilling is a key industry in the state and the industry vocally supported the measure.
The industry says such contamination is impossible when wells are constructed properly, adding that tens of thousands of wells have been drilled and fractured with relatively few problems. Companies say chemicals make up less than 1% of the volume of most fracturing jobs and are mostly benign.
For drillers, though, making that argument was difficult when they were refusing to say what chemicals were being used. Information on chemicals was available at drilling sites, but environmental groups have criticized that information as incomplete and inaccessible to the general public.
"I think the one thing hopefully that we all learned is you can't just say, 'Take our word for it,'" said Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for gas producer Range Resources Corp.
Earlier this year, many big gas producers, said they would begin voluntarily publicizing the chemicals online at FracFocus.org.
Environmental groups, saying neither FracFocus nor the state laws go far enough, have called for a mandatory, national chemical database.
Jim Keffer, a Republican state representative who co-authored the Texas bill, said he believes the law will help the industry. "We're trying to alleviate the concerns," he said. "We're trying to show people that the industry does know how to do this."