FRAC Act Reintroduced as Bipartisan Bill

on May 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

US President Barack Obama addresses a Jo

The FRAC Act is reintroduced to implement federal level regulations to protect groundwater resources from potential risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.

On May 9, 2013, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) reintroduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, a bill first proposed by DeGette in 2008.  The 2013 version signifies a bipartisan attempt to protect drinking water aquifers from potential contamination from chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

The legislation would require drillers to disclose fracturing chemicals to state regulatory agencies or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), depending on respective regulatory framework.  Drilling companies would have to disclose chemical constituents, but not chemical formulas.  Thus, the legislation will protect proprietary formulas except under emergency situations requiring medical intervention.  The disclosure of chemical additives would be made publicly available on the Internet.



The FRAC Act also aims to remove the exemption for hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  The 2005 Energy Policy Act amended SDWA to exempt drilling technology involving underground fluid injection, except for diesel-based fracturing.  Under the FRAC Act, EPA would set the relevant standard, but enable states integrate fracturing into current permitting processes, without the need for additional procedures.

The legislation addresses fragmented state regulations by establishing a comprehensive methodology to regulate fracturing operations.  DeGette explained that the legislation would protect environmental and public health without debilitating the economic and energy benefits of natural gas development.

By implementing a federal-level framework to regulate hydraulic fracturing, FRAC Act would cause drilling companies to navigate through more red tape.  Opponents of the bill regard state-level control as a superior option to regulate hydraulic fracturing, given the extensive geological and operational disparities between major natural gas formations across the country.

May 10, 2013 via Energy Solutions Forum

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