Another state will soon require natural gas drillers to disclose what chemicals they’re using during the hydraulic fracturing process.
When the new regulation goes into effect, Colorado will become the seventh state to mandate well-by-well disclosure of fracking chemicals. (This summer, StateImpact compared Pennsylvania’s regulations to other states’. Montana passed a fracking disclosure rule after our article was published.)
Colorado’s new fracking-fluid disclosure rule, the most comprehensive in the country, is the product of days of “shuttle diplomacy,” last-minute compromises and phone calls from Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The rule, unanimously approved Tuesday by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, requires drillers to disclose all the chemicals in hydraulic fracturing and their concentrations. No other state requires such a detailed disclosure, said Mike Paque, executive director of the Groundwater Protection Council, a national association of state water agencies.
Colorado takes an interesting approach to the thorny issue of whether companies can keep chemicals private by deeming them “trade secrets.” Several states, including Pennsylvania, simply let drillers dictate whether or not listing a certain chemical would expose a proprietary secret. Arkansas leaves the final decision up to a state regulator. In Texas, the state Attorney General signs off on trade secret requests.
In Colorado, companies will be required to sign a legally-binding form to declare a chemical proprietary. Drillers who lie could be charged with perjury.