EPA Seeks Public Comment on Potential Disclosure Rules for Fracking Fluids

Late last week, the Obama administration announced first steps that could result in tighter regulation of fracking, seeking public comment for 90 days on whether it should require chemical manufacturers to disclose the contents of fracking fluids injected into shale seams. The “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” came in response to a petition by the environmental group Earthjustice, which had asked the EPA to require chemical manufacturers and processors to publish detailed information about the content of fluids used in fracking.

James Jones, the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, remarked that the notice “represents an important step in increasing the public’s access to information on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing activities.” He told reporters that the agency wants to use the process to learn what is happening at the state level and what voluntary mechanisms are available for reporting. In that regard, the EPA pointed out that its notice may not result in any formal measures at all and it would consider non-regulatory approaches.

Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice, stated that stringent federal rules are needed, however, because not all states are equipped to regulate. “Some of the states do something. Some don’t. A lot of the disclosure they require is enforced rarely and poorly,” she said.

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