Website Would Show Fracking Chemicals

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of the Interior seeks comments on a proposed rule that would require drilling companies to publicly disclose chemicals used in fracking.
     The rule would require drilling companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in fracking on the public website, and it would require “flowback” fluids to be stored in closed containers. It also would expand evaluation methods used to assess whether cement may have adequately separated water sources from the fracking borehole, which is related to keeping ground water from being contaminated.
     Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling technique involving million of gallons of water, sand and chemicals injected into dense rock or shale at high pressure, creating cracks that allow the release of natural gas or oil that was previously trapped and inaccessible. The practice has been around for decades but has been increasingly used within the last decade by companies eager to jump on a growing, albeit controversial, section of the U.S. economy fueled by a push for domestic energy sources, according to Popular Mechanics’ magazine.
     According to the Popular Mechanics’ article, “fracking now figures heavily into the future of U.S. energy production” and estimates that unconventional extraction methods “will increase from 42 percent of U.S. [natural] gas production in 2007 to 64 percent in 2020.”
     But fracking opponents say the extraction method is environmentally unfriendly. Several online sites are dedicated to educating the public about the alleged dangers of fracking, many residents complaining about contaminated water supplies and large water resources being exhausted. One website claims a peer-reviewed study conducted by Duke University and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences links natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing with a “pattern of drinking water contamination so severe that some faucets can be lit on fire.”
     The Department of Interior understands the concern.
     “The rapid expansion of this practice (fracking) has caused public concern about whether fracturing can lead to or cause the contamination of underground water sources, whether the chemicals used in fracturing should be disclosed to the public and whether there is adequate management of well integrity,” according the Department’s action.
     Many states have developed their own regulations for fracking and some stakeholders say the federal government, by proposing its new regulation, is only creating a redundancy problem.
     “States have been successfully regulating fracking for decades, including on federal lands, with no incident of contamination that would necessitate redundant federal regulation,” Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Western Energy Alliance, Kathleen Sgamma, told The Daily Caller news website. “While the current rule is better than the first impractical rule, DOI still has not justified the rule from an economic or scientific point of view.”
     The Department of Interior, however, says the proposed regulation is meant to provide a more universal oversight of fracking operations and is not meant to introduce redundancies.
     “State regulations pertaining to hydraulic fracturing operations are not uniform . . . this revised proposed rule seeks to create a consistent oversight and disclosure model that will apply across all public and Indian lands that are available for oil and gas development, and aims to streamline and minimize the efforts required to comply with any new requirements, while also protecting federal and tribal interests and resources,” the department said in its action.
     June 24 is the deadline for comments on the revised proposed rule.

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