Texas Legislature Passes Natural Gas Fracking Bill
Texas is arguably one of the largest beneficiaries of the relatively new practice of fracking in natural gas drilling. It is largely responsible for a boom in the natural gas and oil industries. It is also a major contributing factor in the huge decline in electricity rates in Texas. Much of Texas electricity is generated from natural gas. For Texans, fracking has lead to cheap natural gas and cheap natural gas has lead to cheap electricity.
The 2011 Texas Legislature has passed a new law regulating fracking. The new law will be the first state statute of its kind in the nation. It will require disclosure of the names of any chemicals or other additives as well as water volumes used in the hydraulic fracturing process now commonly used in the production of natural gas.
Specifically the bill calls for those using fracking technology to disclose on a publicly accessible website the volumes and maximum concentrations of chemicals and additives regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) used in each well. However the people who would be expected to most welcome the news are not satisfied.
This certainly sounds like a win for environmentalists who are concerned about the impact of fracking on the environment. But environmental groups complain that the bill was watered down (no pun intended) by last minute lobbying from the industry. Among the last minute compromises are a provision that exempts certain chemicals or additives from disclosure on the grounds that they could be considered trade secrets by the suppliers or operators. Although adjacent landowners can challenge the trade secret designation in order to seek full disclosure. The problem with "trade secrets", critics say, is that keeping the chemicals used on the fracking process a secret is exactly what the bill is intended to prevent. There is also concern about the July 2013 effective date of the statute.Continued on the next page