Texas Moves To Require Fracking Chemical Disclosure

A new law about to go into effect in Texas could be a game-changer for the hydraulic fracturing industry. The state will require companies to disclose the chemicals they use to extract oil and gas from the ground.

There's little regulation of the relatively new hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, industry, which is why the move by Texas could set the tone for the rest of the country.

Earlier this year state legislators passed a law requiring companies to disclose the chemicals they use for fracking.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which provides oversight of energy industries in the state,was charged with implementing the new rules within two years, but took just six months to complete the process.

Commissioner Barry Smitherman says companies will be required to disclose how much water, sand, chemicals and additives they use and post the information to a website called fracfocus.org.

"We estimate that about 50 percent of the companies have been doing this voluntarily, putting their information on fracfocus. Now it will be mandatory for all operators in Texas."

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund have praised the new rule, although they are concerned about one clause that says companies are not required to disclose trade secret information.

Just last week the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time linked chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination in one Wyoming community.

The new Texas rule will apply to all fracking permits issued on or after February 1, 2012.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...