First Step to Protect Groundwater through Natural Gas Drilling Safeguards in Texas is Not Landmark Bill as First Proposed.
This past Friday, Texas House Bill 3328, a bill to require a well-by-well disclosure of hydraulic fracturing “fracking” fluids and additives used on natural gas drilling sites was signed into law.
Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club worked hard for the much-needed protections. Here’s what happened —
This law for the first time requires mandatory disclosure of most chemicals and additives on a well-by-well basis in the gas fracking process. However, Texas could have done much more. While the bill requires chemicals regulated by OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration]to be listed by amount and concentration on a well-by-well basis, this bill still exempts “trade secret” chemicals, provides only limited data on non-OSHA chemicals, does not provide advance notice to landowners and limits third-party challenges to the trade secret exemptions.
The Sierra Club was able to get an amendment on the bill that would make it clear all data would be available well-by-well on a public website, however the following other proposed improvements did not make it into the law:
- Full well-by-well disclosure of all chemicals, including those regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and those not regulated by OSHA;
- A more inclusive list of who can actually challenge any chemicals claimed as trade secrets, including those landowners living within a mile of any well shaft;
- A process for the agency to determine if any trade secret claims are meritorious and to not give a blanket protection to trade secrets claimed by the industry.
Cyrus Reed —
As we work to move beyond oil in Texas a state that leads in oil and gas, what happens here reflects much of the natural gas practices around the country. Making sure the rules implemented are tilted toward full disclosure, and not toward secrecy, and toward easy access of well-by-well information are key to making this law successful.
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