Texas is on its way to leading the nation in the public disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals. Gov. Rick Perry Friday signed into law HB 3328, making the Lone Star State a leader on an issue with which other states producing natural gas from shale plays have struggled.
The legislation requires full public disclosure of the chemical composition of fracking fluids on a well-by-well basis and seeks to establish a model for other states to follow (see Shale Daily, June 1). The regulations, which have the support of the gas industry, are to be implemented by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).
Operators will have the ability to challenge disclosure if they feel that certain contents of the fluid they use constitute a trade secret. Disclosure would be made on the existing Frac Focus Chemical Disclosure Registry website.
Last Wednesday RRC commissioners during a conference vowed to quickly draft the disclosure rules. "The implementation of this groundbreaking policy by administrative rule is a Railroad Commission priority," said RRC Chair Elizabeth Ames Jones.
RRC staff was directed to begin creation of a rulemaking timetable. The process will include public hearings. Rules for disclosure of chemicals regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration need to be completed by July 1, 2012. Rules for disclosure of other chemicals would need to be developed by July 1, 2013.
Perry did not make a statement on the signing of the bill. Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier noted that there has not been a confirmed case of groundwater contamination from fracking in Texas, but she said Perry believes the legislation will give the public "peace of mind about the practice."
Elsewhere, Montana is considering rules for frack fluid disclosure at the regulatory level; Arkansas, Wyoming and Michigan require some form of disclosure. The issue of frack fluid disclosure is seen by environmentalists and landowner advocates as central to the natural gas industry's image in the shale patch (see Shale Daily, June 17).