FRAC Act Re-introduced in Congress
“There is a growing discrepancy between the natural gas industry’s claim that nothing ever goes wrong and the drumbeat of investigations and personal tragedies which demonstrate a very different reality,” Representative Polis said in a press release. “The FRAC Act is a simple, common sense way to answer the serious concerns that accompany the rapid growth of drilling across the country. Our bill restores a basic, national safety-net that will ensure transparency within the industry and safeguard our communities. If there is truly nothing to worry about, then this bill will lay the public’s concern to rest through science and sunlight.”
The FRAC Act would do the following:
- Require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction, but not the proprietary chemical formula. Disclosures would be made available to the public online.
- Protect proprietary chemical formulas– much like the way Coca-Cola must reveal the ingredients of Coke, but not their secret formula; oil and gas companies would have to reveal the chemicals, but not the specific formula.
- Enact an emergency provision requiring proprietary chemical formulas to be disclosed to a treating physician, the State, or EPA in emergency situations where the information is needed to provide medical treatment.
- Repeal a provision added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempting the industry from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), one of our landmark environmental and public health protection statutes.
Most states have primacy over these types of natural gas wells, and the intent of the FRAC Act is to allow states to ensure that our drinking water is safe. EPA would set the standard, but a state would be able to incorporate hydraulic fracturing into the existing permitting process for each well, and so this would not require any new permitting process.
Passage of the FRAC Act will face an ever rockier road ahead than it did in the last Congress. However, it is essential that the exclusions and loopholes for oil and gas are removed from all environmental legislation to ensure our rivers and communities are protected. The FRAC Act would be a good first step towards that goal.