Texas natural gas producers would be required to add a “tracer” liquid to help identify the fluids they use in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations under a bill filed in the state legislature last Friday.

The measure (SB 772) is intended by the bill’s author, Sen Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), as a protection for energy companies in cases where they are accused of contaminating area water supplies with their fracking activities.

The tracer would also help “answer questions for landowners about possible contamination in the same manner that DNA evidence is used in proving guilt or exonerating defendants in criminal court cases,” Davis’ office said.

Davis, who said she supports “responsible drilling and the positive impacts that drilling for natural gas have brought to the local economy,” believes the use of a tracer in fracking fluid could help settle legal disputes related to fracking.

The lawmaker, whose district includes part of the Barnett Shale, has introduced several bills that could get consideration during the legislative session, which ends May 30 (see Shale Daily, Feb. 1a).

Just such a dispute has been raging in Davis’ own backyard where Barnett Shale producer Range Resources Corp. has been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly contaminating the water in the wells of two residents. As more evidence comes to light in that case, it has become increasingly doubtful that Range is responsible for the contamination (see Shale Daily, Feb. 1b).

Davis’ spokesman told NGI’s Shale Daily that her bill is not a response to the Range case.

“The goal of this legislation is to reduce the cost of legal burdens on the gas drilling industry or landowners when questions of water contamination arise, while also demonstrating to a groundwater-dependent public whether drilling is safe,” Davis said.