EPA will seek comments on disclosing frac fluid ingredients

This story was updated on May 9 and May 10.

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced it will seek public comment on what information could be reported and disclosed for hydraulic fracturing chemicals and mixtures and the approaches for obtaining this information.

Ideas about incentives and recognition programs that could support the development and use of safer chemicals in hydraulic fracturing also will be solicited, EPA said in a May 9 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR).

Comments will be accepted for 90 days following the ANPR’s publication in the Federal Register early next week, it indicated.

“Today’s announcement represents an important step in increasing the public’s access to information on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing activities,” said James Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“EPA looks forward to hearing from the public and stakeholders about public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, and we will continue working with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners to ensure that we complement, but not duplicate, existing reporting requirements,” he continued.

Many oil and gas producers and their fracing service suppliers already disclose the information voluntarily at FracFocus, which the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and the Groundwater Protection Council jointly operate.

More is needed

An official at Earthjustice, which 3 years ago petitioned EPA with 114 other environmental and public interest groups to require full frac fluid ingredient disclosure, said federal regulation is necessary and welcomed the agency’s announcement for two reasons.

“First, some states ask the fracing companies, not the chemical manufacturers, to disclose the chemicals in their frac fluids,” said Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney for the environmental organization’s fracing litigation program. Fracing service companies sometimes say that even they don’t know what chemicals are in the fluids because manufacturers claim it’s a trade secret, and disclosure ends there, she said.

“Second, the oil and gas industry has a bad track record on transparency, so we can’t rely on a voluntary system to get full information,” Goldberg continued. “We need an enforceable rule that requires reporting from all manufacturers and processors of chemicals used in the development process.”

She maintained, “At the very least, EPA should know everything. Also, because EPA has one of the better systems for vetting claims that the chemicals are trade secrets or otherwise confidential, required reporting increases the chances that the public will get the information too.”

In a statement issued May 9, the American Chemistry Council said, “As an industry undergoing a historic expansion made possible by increased supplies of domestic natural gas, we support policies that encourage robust production while protecting health and the environment.

CBI protection necessary

“We are committed to transparency in the disclosure of chemical ingredients of fracturing solutions, subject to protection of confidential business information (CBI),” ACC said. It said as it assesses EPA’s ANPR and develops its response, it is concerned about recent US Department of Energy decisions in which it believes transparency and CBI are “starkly out of balance.”

It noted that it told Sec. of Energy Ernest J. Moniz in an Apr. 9 letter that it believes a Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) taskforce’s recommendations discounted “the competitive value of an industry’s intellectual property regardless of whether a health or environmental concern is implicated.”

ACC said, “Its approach puts at risk the innovation that makes US products more competitive in global markets. Unfortunately, SEAB chose to support the taskforce’s flawed recommendations. We hope the administration will encourage growth and competitiveness in US manufacturing by strengthening its protection for CBI.”

But an American Petroleum Institute spokesman said a new EPA frac fluid ingredient disclosure rulemaking is unnecessary and duplicative. “Robust chemical information is already available to EPA, as well as state regulators that are the primary regulators for oil and gas operations,” he told OGJ by e-mail on May 9.

API strongly supports FracFocus, and considers the web site an important resource that hundreds of well operators use, both voluntarily and in accordance with many states’ laws, the spokesman continued. “As of Mar. 18, 821 individual companies participate in FracFocus, including 615 reporting companies that have disclosed information regarding over 68,300 oil and gas wells since 2011,” he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected