Railroad Commission Adopts Fracturing Fluids Disclosure Rule

Texas Railroad Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to adopt a rule requiring Texas oil and gas operators to disclose on a national public website chemical ingredients and water volumes used to hydraulically fracture wells in Texas.

The Hydraulic Fracturing Chemical Disclosure rule will be required for wells that the Railroad Commission has issued an initial drilling permit on or after Feb. 1, 2012. Before the rule passed, Texas operators conducting hydraulic fracturing were voluntarily entering chemical data into the public website FracFocus (fracfocus.org) for about half of all wells in Texas undergoing hydraulic fracturing.

Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones said, “Once again the Railroad Commission is taking a lead in helping the public understand the safety of hydraulic fracturing with this rule’s adoption. In fact, with this new rule, Texans will know more about what is going in the ground for energy production than about the ingredients that go into their sodas.”

Commissioner David Porter said, “Hydraulic fracturing has been occurring safely in Texas for 60 years, and this new rule provides a balance between protecting legitimate business information and the public’s right to know.”

A listing of chemical ingredients used to hydraulically fracture a well that has been permitted by the RRC on or after Feb. 1, 2012, must be uploaded to the public national chemical disclosure registry, FracFocus.org. A supplier, service company or operator is not required to disclose trade secret information unless the Attorney General or court determines the information is not entitled to trade secret protection.

David Weinberg, Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters, praised the Railroad Commission’s swift action in adopting a public disclosure rule on hydraulic fracturing fluids that embodies elements of greater transparency and accountability.

“It’s in every Texan’s best interest for our state to move closer to a more complete understanding of the impact and public health implications of hydraulic fracturing fluids used in natural gas production," Weinberg said.  "We’re especially pleased to see the inclusion of non-MSDS chemicals on Frac Focus.

“In a state where oil and gas are king and the energy industry is quite powerful, it might come as a surprise that hydraulic fracturing disclosure would garner the sort of broad-based, bipartisan support it has amassed and to see the swift action by our state’s oil and gas regulators today; instead, I think it is a testament to the far-reaching implications of this rule and the general public’s heightened concerns over safer drilling practices. “