The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for ways to resolve the issues surrounding reporting chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The regulator has announced plans to seek public comment on potential disclosure regulation, as well as input on possible non-regulatory approaches to the matter.
The agency would also like to focus on promoting voluntary initiatives among oil and gas companies for adopting safer and more environmentally friendly chemicals in fracking. Scientific and industry evidence on ways to incentivize and raise awareness of such programs will be welcomed, the EPA said.
Currently, fracking companies are not required to reveal the type and amount of chemicals they use in their drilling and production operations as this is generally regarded as a trade secret. However, operators are facing growing pressure from the public, environmental groups and stakeholders for transparency and increased corporate responsibility.
Still, the EPA would like to avoid duplication of state and federal initiatives on the collection of such information. It plans to offer a flexible scheme for businesses to report on the chemicals they use, introducing regulation or voluntary programs, or a combination of both. According to James Jones, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the federal agency aims to ensure that the public has greater access to information regarding chemicals used in fracking, while at the same time making sure the measures taken complement and do not duplicate reporting rules for businesses.