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Texas Fracking Disclosure Bill Signed into Law

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On June 17, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a bill requiring drilling companies to publically disclose the chemicals used on every hydraulic fracturing job in the state. Beginning next year, companies will be required to post their chemical lists on FracFocus.org, a Web site showing what chemicals are used in a particular well, and to “disclose chemicals not included in the site’s database through a separate process,” reported the Wall Street Times. The process of hydraulic fracturing involves pumping a mixture of chemicals, water and sand thousands of feet underground to release trapped oil and gas. The American public has become apprehensive of the process because identity of the chemicals used is often unknown. Although other states have passed similar legislation, the Texas law

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will have a significant impact since gas drilling is a key industry in the state. In recent months, the industry opposed full disclosure of chemicals relying heavily on the “disclosure exception” which prevents drillers from disclosing chemicals deemed trade secrets. However, constant public criticism has led many drilling companies to reconsider their stance on the issue. The industry supported the Texas bill and in May, 12 large gas producers urged the Texas legislature to pass the bill, reported the Wall Street Times. Chesapeake Energy Corp. offered its support, saying, “We have seen the light,” said Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. Republican state representative, Jim Keffer co-authored the bill and believes it will show the industry “does know how to do this.” In 2010, Range Resources Inc. volunteered to disclose chemicals used in its Pennsylvania wells, while Chesapeake Energy, Chevron Corp. and BP PLC voluntarily disclosed their chemicals at FracFocus.org. Despite the industries’ newfound position on disclosure, environmental groups remain skeptical. Some believe the Texas law and FracFocus.org do not require enough from drilling companies and call for a mandatory, national chemical database. “Regardless of what state you live in, we think you deserve to know,” said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Texas law will also allow companies to request certain information be withheld based on the “disclosure exception.”

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