EPA Weighs New Fracking Rule

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<p>Voters in four Colorado towns went to the polls Tuesday to decide on anti-fracking measures, which could influence the conversation nationwide.</p>
National Journal
Ben Geman
May 9, 2014, 12:22 p.m.

The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency moved a small step closer Fri­day to for­cing in­dustry dis­clos­ure of data on chem­ic­als and chem­ic­al mix­tures used in hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing.

EPA so­li­cited com­ment on what a po­ten­tial reg­u­la­tion un­der the Tox­ic Sub­stances Con­trol Act might look like, but it isn’t com­mit­ting it­self to writ­ing an ac­tu­al rule.

The idea of for­mu­lat­ing a reg­u­la­tion has been kick­ing around for quite a while.

In 2011 en­vir­on­ment­al­ists seek­ing chem­ic­al test­ing and data pe­ti­tioned EPA to write broad frack­ing rules un­der the tox­ic-sub­stances law. EPA agreed to ex­plore a piece of what they wanted (the pos­sible dis­clos­ure rules), but the two years-plus between the pe­ti­tion and today’s no­tice is slower ac­tion than act­iv­ists had hoped.

The En­vir­on­ment­al De­fense Fund, one of the groups seek­ing new rules, noted that EPA’s ac­tion is merely the “first baby step,” and it is­sued a call to arms for pres­sur­ing the agency to go ahead with a rule.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate that this pro­cess has taken so long, as it ad­dresses a crit­ic­al need to en­sure the safety of chem­ic­als used in frack­ing,” said Richard Den­ison, an EDF sci­ent­ist, in a blog post.

“It will be es­sen­tial that the pub­lic en­gage in the de­vel­op­ment of EPA’s re­port­ing sys­tem to en­sure it de­liv­ers the needed in­form­a­tion to EPA and max­im­izes pub­lic ac­cess to that in­form­a­tion,” he said.

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