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Colorado approves disclosure of fracking chemicals

posted on December 16, 2011


DENVER (AP) - Colorado 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.

Colorado regulators unanimously approved the new rules Tuesday that take effect in April.

The guidelines are similar to those required by a first-in-the-nation law passed in Texas this year but go further by
requiring the concentrations of chemicals to be disclosed.

"That's the big advancer here. We're getting a full picture of what's in that fracking fluid," said Michael Freeman, an attorney for Earthjustice who worked with industry to write the rules.

Also, if Colorado drillers claim a trade secret, they would still have to disclose the ingredient's chemical family. In
emergencies, companies would have to tell health care workers what those secret ingredients were.

"It yielded a good rule for the state and a workable rule for the industry," said Jep Seman, an attorney for the Colorado Petroleum Association.

Companies have been fracking for decades, but as drilling expands to more populated areas, residents near wells are concerned about the effects on their health and drinking water. Texas, in passing its law this summer, noted that fracking has been done safely in that state for 60 years.

Arkansas, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming all require companies to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid but not their concentrations, said Matt Watson, senior energy policy manager for the Environmental Defense Fund. Louisiana and New Mexico only require disclosure of some chemicals deemed workplace hazards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Other states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, have proposed similar regulations.

Gov. John Hickenlooper called for Colorado to draft a disclosure rule. The commission proposed having companies list nonproprietary ingredients and concentrations on FracFocus.org, a national website created by two intergovernmental agencies. The rule was proposed to take effect Feb. 1, but commission staff recommended delaying that until April 1 to give drillers more time to comply.


Tags: chemicals Colorado drilling environment fracking fracturing oil Texas