Lawmakers Call for Disclosure of Fracking Liquids

Hydraulic fracturing has created a boom in domestic supplies of natural gas liquids, including propane. But environmentalists say the extraction method has contaminated drinking water sources. (image: inhabitat.com)

The Environmental Protection Agency is under pressure to force oil and gas companies to disclose the chemical-laced fluids they use during hydraulic fracturing, fuelfix.com reports.

The controversial gas and oil extraction method is credited for a boom in domestic US oil and natural gas supplies – including propane.

It involves blasting a cocktail of sand, chemicals and water at high pressure beneath the earth to break up shale rock formations so their oil and gas reserves can be extracted.

Oil and gas companies say hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is safe, creates jobs and is helping secure a reliable source of domestically-produced energy.

But the process has been linked to chemical contamination of drinking water sources and has even been banned in France. Environmentalists have called for fracking to be banned in this country and there are moves to regulate the industry more stringently to protect waterways and the atmosphere from harmful gas emissions.

Three House Democrats are now pressing the US Environmental Protection Agency to require oil and gas companies to disclose the fluids they use to hydraulically fracture wells.

Reps. Henry Waxman of California, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado earlier this year released an analysis showing 12 oil and gas companies had used 32.2 million gallons of fracturing fluid containing diesel fuel between 2005 and 2009.

The lawmakers wrote to the EPA last week revising that number upward by 500,000 gallons, saying two companies had accidentally provided lawmakers incorrect data.

The errors “demonstrate the difficulty in obtaining accurate information about the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluids and reinforce the need for mandatory and uniform national disclosure of this information to EPA,” the lawmakers wrote.

The EPA is conducting its own study on the safety of hydraulic fracturing. The agency recently announced it would set standards for the disposal of fracturing wastewater.

Texas, where companies will have to disclose their fracturing fluids’ ingredients under a new state law, led the way among states with 16.7 million gallons of diesel-containing fluid, more than half the total, according to the Democratic lawmakers.

Louisiana adopted its own disclosure-requirement rule last month.

DeGette is lead sponsor of a bill to require companies to disclose the fluids they use for fracturing. The bill, introduced in March, hasn’t been brought up for consideration in the Republican-controlled House.

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