The Environmental Protection Agency has finally announced plans to develop rules governing the use of the chemicals used in “fracking” operations. The rules will require the gas and oil industry to submit records on the use of these chemicals. Rule requirements will include divulging the types of chemicals being used and to submit health and safety studies related to the chemicals being utilized in their “fracking” operations. The industry has resisted local, state, and federal requests to divulge this information in the past. Part of the defense industry has used is that the chemicals being utilized are proprietary secrets, and that the industry did not want to share with their competitors. EPA is initiating a request for public input on the design and scope of the reporting requirements. Industry critics welcomed the development, while industry has indicated that it will continue to resist divulging the types of chemicals being utilized. Industry pundits claim that if a “fracking” well is properly installed the chemicals that are used will not leech into ground water supplies. Industry is currently subject to a patchwork of state regulations, but pressure has been increasing to establish national baseline standards. Various iterations of a so-called FRAC-Act have been introduced in both the House and the Senate – chiefly with support from Democrats – with a goal of bringing the practice of hydraulic fracturing under increased federal oversight. Those in the industry, with the backing of Congressional Republicans, have argued that regulatory responsibility should reside with the states, and that any new layer of federal oversight would be unduly burdensome. People who live near “fracking” well sites need to know of the types of chemicals being used at these sites. It is the only way they can understand the risks that are associated with the use of these chemicals, and the potential public threat they are faced with.
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