Thanks to courageous regulators in Colorado, the American public will get its first real look behind the curtain at the closely held “chemical recipe” used by natural gas drillers in the highly controversial extraction process known as fracking. The increasingly widespread practice – involving the high-pressure injection of water, sand and a secret mix of toxic chemicals deep into the ground to release natural gas – has been tied to a litany of environmental and public health risks.
According to a Dec. 13 Associated Press report, the new Colorado guidelines, passed unanimously by regulators on Tuesday, “will require energy companies to disclose the concentrations of all chemicals in hydraulic fracturing and also ask drillers to make public some information about ingredients considered trade secrets.” The ground-breaking regulatory move gives me hope that common sense, though clearly on life-support, is still alive when looking at ways to safely deploy fracking.
The Colorado guidelines come on the heels of an EPA announcement tying fracking to severe groundwater pollution in a small town in Wyoming (see link below to my previous post). It is the first time the government agency has made that scientific connection. Colorado’s full disclosure requirement represents a clear victory for public health and safety as fracking spreads into more populated areas, and state and local governments grapple with how to effectively regulate it.
Colorado joins only one other state, Texas, in requiring frackers to disclose what chemicals they are injecting into the ground – chemicals that, according to the EPA, could end up poisoning drinking-water supplies. The new guidelines build on those of Texas by demanding disclosure of not only the chemicals themselves, such as hydrochloric acid and propane, but also their amounts, or concentrations. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: “I think we’ve reached the fairest and most transparent rules on the transparency of frack fluids of any state in the country.”
The hope now is that other states will follow Colorado’s lead. More from Gov. Hickenlooper: “I think this will likely become a national model that if other states they don’t copy it, they will certainly use it as a touch point.”
We’ve got a long way to go before we adequately protect the public and the environment from the dangers of fracking, but with Colorado leading the way, we’re heading in the right direction.
Read the full AP report here: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP155fc21d4ccf4a04bac0aeea04889754.html
Here’s my Dec. 10 post on the EPA announcement tying fracking to groundwater contamination: https://www.stuarthsmith.com/the-drinking-water-reeks-of-chemicals-epa-ties-fracking-to-severe-groundwater-pollution-in-wyoming-town
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