At long last, the EPA is making moves toward heightened regulation of U.S. oil and gas drilling, announcing Friday that it's begun a process that could end with fracking companies being required to disclose which chemicals they use -- to the government, and potentially to the public.
As a reminder, the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the ground, "fracturing" shale rock and releases trapped oil and gas. Despite the fanct that those chemicals can find their way into nearby supplies of drinking water, companies aren't required to disclose which ones they use, because they're "trade secrets."
Some companies do choose to make information about their so-called fracking fluids public, Bloomberg News points out, by posting on FracFocus.org. But critics say there needs to be a more reliable and easily aggregated source of data. “We want to be sure that there is some agency that actually is collecting this information about what is being used in these shale plays across the country,” Deborah Goldberg, a lawyer at Earthjustice. “The disclosure we are getting right now is spotty.”
In addition, the EPA said it's looking into "incentives and recognition programs that could be used to support the development and use of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing." Good ideas all around.