What is the legitimate role of government in regulating chemicals
used in hydro-fracturing
natural gas wells? Hydro-fracturing is a key technology used in achieving productivity in shale gas wells, and has been in use for decades. Now these chemicals are coming under Congressional scrutiny
as drilling ramps up in the Marcellus
shale formations throughout North America.
The Bush administration sought and got an exemption for the natural gas industry from having to disclose these chemicals as would normally be required under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974
Natural gas companies have generally refused to disclose their specific recipes for the fracing fluid they use on the basis of it being their trade secrets. The companies are not required by law to disclose these chemicals.
Is it time now for the natural gas industry to come clean
and start making specific disclosures of each company's recipe? Alternatively, if the competitive pressure is too strong to ever warrant full disclosure of these chemicals, are there remedies that can be applied to protect the companies' trade secrets, yet still protect the public interest from the unwarranted risk of water pollution? Protecting the watershed of big East Coast cities' drinking water such as New York City and Philadelphia is of particular concern
, but no less so than for that of the thousands of individual water wells throughout the prospective regions that families depend upon for their supply of drinking water.