A petition filed by the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice along with 114 other organizations has convinced the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold a 90-day public comment period on disclosure of chemicals used in the process of hydrofracking.
"EPA is seeking comment on what information should be reported to EPA (or through a CBI cleared third-party certifier) or disclosed publicly (by EPA) regarding the identity, quantities, types and circumstances of uses of chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing, as well as what types of health and safety studies should be reported or disclosed."
Their initial petition, filed with the EPA in 2011, had been much broader asking for the EPA to issue rulings under the Toxic Substances Control Act (1976) for toxicity testing on all chemicals used in oil and gas exploration.
The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or ANPR also says that the:
"Agency is seeking comment on ways of minimize reporting burdens and costs and of avoiding the duplication of state and other federal agency information collections, while at the same time maximizing data available for EPA risk characterization, external transparency, and public understanding. Also, EPA is soliciting comments on incentives and recognition programs that could be used to support the development and us e of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing."
James Jones, the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention said in a written release:
“Today’s announcement represents an important step in increasing the public’s access to information on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing activities”
The flag hasn't yet dropped on the comment period. It won't come into effect until the final version of the document is published in the Federal Register.
The EPA has previously supoenaed the company Halliburton Energy Services Inc. for information about the chemicals the company uses in its fracking operations.
Speaking with NPR news, Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg said that it was 'about time' that a federal framework for disclosure was put in place.
Only some states require importers and operators to disclose the formulas for the chemicals being deployed in the state.
Industry advocates claim that the measures would cut across protections for commercial confidentiality.
The chemicals used in fracking operations have been linked to a range of health issues including most recently, hormone disruption, as reported here.