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July 2011 Archives

Does Fracking Pressure Unearth Positive Legal Change?

Texas recently became the first state to require drillers to disclose the chemicals they use to extract petroleum and gas from rock formations.  See, Texas Fracking Bill    While the fluids injected deep into the earth to recover oil and gas consist primarily of water and sand, they include mixtures of hundreds of different chemicals to facilitate the process.  Congress exempted these chemicals from federal disclosure requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The precise composition of the fracking fluids, which vary within the industry, has been a closely guarded secret.  What is known is that many of the fluids contain a variety of hazardous and toxic chemicals.  Critics of the process are concerned that these harmful chemicals can end up in our drinking water and in our homes. Texas' Tea Party Governor, Rick Perry,  is the first governor to sign a disclosure law.  He would seem an unlikely candidate to lead the charge for progressive change on matters pertaining to the environment, particularly given that his state is considered the home to the oil industry.  But, is this really positive change or a sign that the industry and its political allies recognize, and are trying to diffuse, the building public pressure on this suspect and extremely lucrative practice.   It should be noted that industry supported this bill, and the law itself allows industry to withhold proprietary information.   Stay tuned.

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