BLM proposal would disclose fracking chemicals– but only after they are pumped underground

By Environment News Service

A federal government proposal requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing only after the completion of fracking operations is running into opposition from environmental groups.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the high pressure injection of chemicals, sand and water into shale rock thousands of feet deep, fracturing it to release hydrocarbons trapped in tight spaces.

The Bureau of Land Management Friday issued a proposed rule that would, for the first time, require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on 700 million subsurface acres of federal public lands and and 56 million subsurface acres Indian lands – but not before the chemicals are pumped deep underground.

The current fracking-enabled gas drilling boom across the United States has brought reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, and sick families. But industry secrecy has made it difficult for researchers to get the facts on health and environmental impacts of fracking.

Currently, there is no specific requirement for operators to disclose these chemicals on federal and Indian lands, where 90 percent of the wells drilled use hydraulic fracturing to greatly increase the volume of oil and gas available for production.

Now, the BLM proposes three new practices to protect public health, drinking water, and the environment. First, the agency proposes to require the public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking operations on federal and Indian lands after fracturing operations have been completed.

Second, the BLM proposes to require confirmation that wells used in fracturing operations meet appropriate construction standards. The agency says this would improve assurances of well-bore integrity to verify that fluids used in wells during fracturing operations are not escaping.

And third, the agency proposes to confirm that oil and gas operators have a water management plan in place for handling fracturing fluids that flow back to the surface.

“As the President has made clear, this administration’s energy strategy is an all-out effort to boost American production of every available source of energy,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, announcing the proposed rule late Friday.

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