The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission green lights new ‘toughest in nation’ hydraulic fracturing disclosure rule

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From Reuters via The Calgary Herald:

Pressure has been mounting on U.S. companies to be more open about the fracking technique that has been linked to water pollution.

The measures, which come into effect in April, go further than any other state to publicly highlight the exact contents of fracking fluid, which has become a major point of contention between the energy industry and environmentalists as its use increases…

On Tuesday, Texas adopted its own disclosure ruling for drillers, though it is considered less strict, with companies required to only include chemicals considered hazardous under certain drill site rules. Wyoming, Arkansas and Montana have similar disclosure rules to Texas.

More coverage from the Associated Press via The Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

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…

“I think we’ve reached the fairest and most transparent rules on the transparency of frack fluids of any state in the country,” Hickenlooper said afterward. “I think this will likely become a national model that if other states they don’t copy it, they will certainly use it as a touch point.”

More coverage from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

The Colorado requirements are among the most extensive in the U.S. and the Colorado Oil & Gas Association is also satisfied with the outcome.

“Colorado now has the strongest hydraulic fracturing rule in the country,” said COGA president and CEO Tisha Schuller. “But more importantly, we have gained a model process to bring together industry, environmental advocates, and regulators to ensure energy development continues in keeping with protecting the environmental resources of our state.”

“The Commission’s unanimous support for the new hydraulic fracturing disclosure rule is great news for Colorado. The Hickenlooper administration, environmental groups, and the oil and gas industry have agreed upon a rule of which all Coloradoans can be proud.

More coverage from The Greeley Tribune (Sharon Dunn) via Windsor Now!. From the article:

Most oil and gas wells in Colorado have been completed through fracking since 1960, said Ed Holloway, CEO of Synergy Resources Corp., based in Platteville. The process has been widely used since 1947, he said. Holloway, who has been in the business for 30 years and who has seen paperwork associated with oil and gas well drilling double in that time frame, said the new rule will go a long way toward transparency. “I think it’s come to the point now that we can take that veil, that one veil of mystery off,” Holloway said.

Most drillers in Weld already have been disclosing their chemicals voluntarily through the website http://www.fracfocus.org. Come April 1, that will become mandatory. The new rules also require companies to disclose the concentrations of chemicals used.

“There’s always concerns with groundwater contamination, regardless of the industry,” said Weld County Commissioner Chairwoman Barbara Kirkmeyer. “This rule will help with some of that. The industry already does baseline water sampling, and they’re going to continue doing that. And most of the industry players, at least the ones in Weld, have already been disclosing their chemicals. The rule just kind of galvanizes that.”

Some area farmers said they had little concern about fracking. Gege Ellzey, president of the Weld County Farm Bureau, said the disclosure issue had not been heavily discussed among local farmers. “For the most part, no one around here seems to be all that concerned about it,” said Ellzey, who allows oil and gas companies to drill on her land, and noted that she’s had no problems with how they’re operating…

“The end of the story is just a continual attack on our industry,” Holloway said. “My personal belief is this rule is good for the industry, and it’s where the industry should be.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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