Two more states — Colorado and Texas — have stepped in to fill the information vacuum left by Congress' refusal to let the public know what toxic chemicals may be pumped or leaked into drinking wells by "fracking" operations in the current shale gas boom.
Colorado, which adopted its disclosure rules December 13, 2011, joins Texas, Pennsylvania, and several other states in requiring some disclosure by drillers of the chemicals they pump into shale formations under high pressures to release natural gas. Scores of chemicals, some very toxic, may be involved. Environmentalists say none of the state regimes is perfect. Some have a "trade secret" loophole or do not require disclosure of chemical concentrations, as Colorado's does.
Gas drilling companies have resisted regulation for years, arguing that there is no evidence that fracking operations have polluted drinking water wells. That case remains easy to make while companies continue to withhold baseline well data that would allow pollution to be identified.
Colorado's move, though, comes just as the US EPA has finally identified a case in Wyoming where they say such pollution did occur.
Under the "Halliburton loophole" made part of the 2005 federal energy bill, fracking operations were exempted from the disclosure requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
- "States Force Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals," Wall St. Journal, December 14, 2011, by Russell Gold and Stephanie Simon.
- "EPA Acknowledges Link Between Fracking, Well Pollution in Wyoming," Public Radio International, December 12, 2011.
- "Texas Fracking Chemical Disclosure: State Adopts Rules for Drillers," Associated Press, December 13, 2011.
- "Colorado Fracking Chemicals Subject to Mandatory Disclosure Rule; Potential Trade Secrets Loophole Still Exists," Associated Press, December 13, 2011, by P. Solomon Banda.
- "Colorado Adopts Tough Disclosure Rule For Fracking," Summit County Citizens Voice, December 13, 2011, by Bob Berwyn.
- "In Wake of New Fracking Disclosure Rule, Activists Seek Still More Drilling Regulations," Colorado Independent, December 14, 2011, by David O. Williams.
- "Fracking-Disclosure Rule Deemed Worthless Amid Trade-Secrets Loophole," Denver Post, November 23, 2011, by Bruce Finley.
- "How Pennsylvania’s Fracking Chemical Disclosure Rules Stack Up Against Other States," StateImpact, National Public Radio, August 12, 2011, by Scott Detrow.
- "What The Frack's in the Ground? A State-By-State Look at Fracking Disclosure Regulations," StateImpact, National Public Radio.
- "More States Require Disclosure of Chemicals in Fracking Fluid," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2011, by Joe Napsha.
- "Landowners Left Out of the Loop on 'Fracking' Risks," Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2011, by Neela Banerjee.
- Previous Stories: WatchDogs of November 2, 2011; May 18, 2011; April 27, 2011; July 1, 2009.