Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Texas Hopes to Finalize Frack Fluid Rules by 2012

Officials with the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) said they hope to have all rules governing the public disclosure of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluids -- including one key rule with a separate deadline -- finalized by the end of the year.

The key rule -- also known as Paragraph E -- will require operators to provide the RRC and the public with a list of any chemical ingredients not listed on a main disclosure form that will be required by the state, but which were nevertheless intentionally included and used for fracking.

Under Paragraph E, operators will not be required to disclose any ingredients that were accidentally added, occur incidentally or are otherwise unintentionally present. Operators will also not be required to identify ingredients by additive or concentration.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry signed the frack fluid disclosure bill, also known as HB 3328, into law on June 17. The new law requires disclosure on a well-by-well basis and seeks to establish a model for other oil and gas producing states to follow (see Shale Daily, June 21; June 1).

The law stipulates that the RRC enact rules for the entire legislation -- with the exception of Paragraph E -- by July 1, 2012. Rules for Paragraph E must be set by July 1, 2013. RRC spokesperson Ginny Bell told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday that the agency's goal is to have all of the rulemaking completed by the end of the year.

"This rule will provide the additional assurance to the public that a common sense disclosure policy affords, and it will provide operators uniformity and reliability regarding the disclosure process for all wells that are hydraulically fractured in Texas," RRC Chair Elizabeth Ames Jones said Monday. "The Texas disclosure rule will formalize the best practices we already expect and this rule codifies what is being done voluntarily by many companies."

Under HB 3328, the disclosure information contained on the main form would be posted to the Frac Focus Chemical Disclosure Registry website, which is run by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Paragraph E chemicals will also be posted.

HB 3328 sets up a process where operators may withhold information on fracking fluids classified as a trade secret. Such a challenge -- also known as a claim of entitlement (COE) -- must be filed with the RRC within two years of the filing of a completion report for the relevant well. COEs can in turn be challenged by the landowner where the well is located, any adjacent landowners or any relevant state agencies.

The law also calls on the RRC to create a process where first responders and health professionals can receive information on fracking fluids, including those designated as trade secrets, in the event of an emergency.

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