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Texas May Be The First State to Pass Fracking Disclosure Legislation (Update)

Oil is synonomous with Texas, and a close second is natural gas, as natural gas drilling has increased exponentially in the state. So, it may come as a surprise for most people to hear that Texas is leading the way with landmark fracking disclosure legislation.

Texas lawmakers are expected to vote on a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) disclosure bill today. If the legislation passes, as it is expected to, Texas will be the first state in the country to require natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals used during the fracking process.

In another surprisingly twist, the idea for the bill was presented to Rep. Jim Keffer, (R-TX), by industry and environmental representatives.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process associated with deep natural gas extraction. Millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and opens fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

Typically, 80 to 300 tons of chemicals may be used.

Environmentalists and the public have fought for the disclosure of these chemicals, claiming they have a right to know whether these chemicals are polluting groundwater.

For the most part, natural gas drilling companies have fought against disclosing these chemicals -- until now.

"People have a right to know what is going down into their land," Keffer told NPR.

If this legislation passes and is signed into law by Gov. Perry, Keffer said the drilling companies will have to disclose 100-percent of the chemicals well by well, location by location, and post the list on a website.

With the passing of this landmark legislation, Texas could pave the way for other states to pass similar laws.

***Update: Last night the Texas Senate passed its version of House Bill 3328. Because of changes to the bill, it will likely require a conference committee to reconcile the differences.

The following is a statement from Scott Anderson, senior policy adviser at Environmental Defense Fund:

“This bill represents a positive step. Industry needs to reassure the public regarding its actions and this will help. While it isn’t the model we had hoped for, it will help move disclosure efforts forward across the country and globe; and will hopefully put the industry closer to full, mandatory disclosure.”

Posted by Sherleen H. Mahoney on May 25, 2011

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