One of the headlines in President Obama's January 24, 2012, State of the Union address was his declaration that he would work to disclose the ingredients in the "fracking" fluids pumped at high pressure into shale formations to release natural gas. Residents of some states have complained that fracking fluids contain toxic chemicals that are contaminating their drinking water wells.
For years, the problem has been the "Halliburton amendment" to the 2005 Energy Policy Act. At the urging of former Halliburton exec Dick Cheney's Energy Policy Task Force, the 2005 law exempted the production method known as hydrofracturing from most requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act (which normally authorizes the government to require disclosure of substances injected into underground wells). So when it comes to disclosure of what's in fracking fluids, the federal government's hands are mostly tied.
Most current fracking operations happen on non-federal lands. But on federal lands (which Obama vowed to open up to fracking in his State of the Union address), things are different. Obama vowed to require disclosure of fluids as a condition of new leases for fracking on federal lands. If it takes place, this could push the ingredient lists further into the open.
Some states where fracking is booming are already well ahead of the federal government on fracking-fluid disclosure. They include Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Montana, and Wyoming — although in some of the states the disclosure is less than complete.
- "Unlocking the Secrets Behind Hydraulic Fracturing," Texas Tribune/New York Times, January 14, 2012, by Kate Galbraith.
- "Colorado Approval of Fracking Fluids' Full Disclosure Came After Long Negotiations and Nudge from Governor," Denver Post, December 14, 2011, by Mark Jaffe.
- "More States Require Disclosure of Chemicals in Fracking Fluid," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2011, by Joe Napsha.
- "Senior Republican Blasts Interior Push for Gas ‘Fracking’ Disclosure," E2 Wire/The Hill, January 10, 2012, by Ben Geman.
- "Obama Takes GOP Energy Line in SOTU - Republicans Still Skeptical," Morning Energy/Politico, January 25, 2012, by Patrick Reis and staff.
- "President Obama To Call for Safe and Responsible Fracking; Seek Disclosure of Fracking Fluids," Fracking Insider, March 30, 2011, by Dustin Painter.
- Previous Story: WatchDog of December 14, 2011.
- "Obama Calls for Frack Disclosure, But Activists Say That's Not Enough," Greenwire, January 25, 2012, by Mike Soraghan.