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What The Frack's In The Ground? A State-By-State Look At Fracking Disclosure Regulations

Background

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Bradford County drilling rig

Hydraulic fracturing chemicals are exempt from federal disclosure laws. That’s due to famous language inside a 2005 federal law known as the “Halliburton Loophole,” which exempts drillers from the Clean Water Act.

A growing number of states – Pennsylvania among them – have passed their own disclosure regulations, though. Wyoming was first, in September 2010. Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Michigan followed suit. In June 2011, Texas became the first state to pass a law requiring companies to disclose what chemicals are being shot into the ground at each well.

Several other states, including Colorado and Montana, are in the process of writing disclosure regulations.

A website called FracFocus is becoming a national clearinghouse for information about fracking chemicals. It’s run by the Groundwater Protection Council, and received a ringing endorsement from the federal Department of Energy’s August report on shale drilling, which called for an “immediate” increase in well-by-well chemical disclosure.

All five state regulations and laws allow companies to claim “trade secrets,” and keep information about certain chemicals from being released to the public. Four of the five – Pennsylvania is the outlier – have set up websites where people can read well-by-well chemical information.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Senator, Bob Casey, is leading the push to close the federal disclosure loophole. But while the energy industry is on-board with state-level disclosure regulations, the bulk of drilling companies oppose federal requirements, calling them redundant.

Latest Posts

Congressional Watch-Dog Warns Fracking Waste Could Threaten Drinking Water

The Government Accountability Office says new risks from underground injections of oil and gas waste could harm drinking water supplies, and the EPA needs to step up both oversight and enforcement. The GAO released a study on Monday detailing the EPA’s role in overseeing the nation’s 172,000 wells, which either dispose of oil and gas [...]

Federal court dismisses doctor’s lawsuit over Act 13 “gag rule”

Capitolwire reports a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a Luzerne County doctor over an aspect of Pennsylvania’s drilling law (Act 13) that deals with health professionals’ access to information about the chemicals used in fracking. More from Capitolwire: Federal District Judge Richard Caputo found Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez lacked standing to sue the Department [...]

Feds consider rules for fracking chemical disclosure

The federal government is considering whether it should require companies to disclose the chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it is seeking public comments, a pre-curser to the more formal rule-making process. However, there is no guarantee that the EPA will draft regulations. In the meantime, here’s what [...]

Baker Hughes phasing in full disclosure of fracking fluid

In Pennsylvania, companies are required to publicly disclose the chemicals they use for hydraulic fracturing, but they are allowed to make exceptions for “trade secrets.” EnergyWire reports that Baker Hughes, a major service company for the oil and natural gas industry, has quietly implemented a new policy to disclose the ingredients in its fracking fluid [...]

Harvard Study Gives Failing Grade to Fracking Industry Disclosure Website

Bloomberg reports on a new study from Harvard Law School, which finds the fracking industry disclosure website, FracFocus fails as a regulatory compliance tool: Using the voluntary registry for compliance with state disclosure requirements is “misplaced or premature” because of spotty reporting, lack of a searchable database and an “overly broad” allowance for trade secrets, [...]

EPA Releases Update on Fracking Study

The Environmental Protection Agency has released new information about its ongoing review of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the impact on drinking water. Today’s report does not include any conclusions, but outlines the research process and timeline. The EPA study examines the entire drilling process, not just fracking. The Agency has broken up the process [...]

Bloomberg Finds Holes In FracFocus’ Database

In recent years, the FracFocus website has evolved into the definitive source on what chemicals are being used during hydraulic fracturing. That’s because rather than creating state-run sites hosting this information, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio and other states that have written fracking disclosure laws or regulations have ordered companies to host the information on FracFocus, instead. [...]

Mapping State-Level Fracking Regulations

Via the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, RFF’s Center for Energy Economics and Policy has put together a series of maps visualizing state-level hydraulic fracturing regulations. The map we’ve posted shows which states require drillers to publicly disclose chemicals used during the fracking process. The center’s website also features maps breaking down state regulation of water withdrawals, required setbacks, [...]

Fracking Disclosure: Colorado’s Compromise Is Pennsylvania’s Controversy

The before, during and after of the fracking fluid recycling process

In Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing critics call it the doctor “gag rule.” But three other states have passed nearly identical provisions in recent months. And in two of them, the language passed without a blip of controversy. Pennsylvania’s new state law, Act 13, requires drilling companies to tell any doctor who asks what chemicals they are [...]

What You Need To Know About Act 13′s Confidentiality Requirements

A truck delivers fracking fluid to a Susquehanna County recycling center

As you can tell from reading the StateImpact Pennsylvania site today, there is a growing divide over whether or not the new impact fee, known as Act 13, puts a gag order on doctors treating people who may have been exposed to drilling-related chemicals. StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Susan Phillips took a look at controversy in the [...]

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