Drilling Down

Ryan Signs on As Cosponsor of FRAC Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan called Monday for increased transparency in hydraulic fracturing.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, last week signed on a co-sponsor of the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals, or FRAC, Act. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep Diana DeGette, D-1 Colorado, has 61 cosponsors, all Democrats.  

The bill would establish “common sense safeguards” to protect groundwater from risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique used in oil and gas extraction. If approved, it would require disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids and would remove the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.  

“There’s no denying that there are immense climate-related benefits and economic benefits associated with the transition to natural gas, particularly here in Ohio. Even still, we must be vigilant ensuring that such benefits do not come at the expense of the health and wellness of our communities,” Ryan said in a release. “We as lawmakers must make sure natural gas recovery is done in a way that puts community health front and center.”

The act would call for disclosure to the state or to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in cases where EPA has primary enforcement responsibility in the state. The disclosures would then be made available to the public online.

In addition, companies would be required to disclose the ingredients, though not the specific formula, of fracking fluid. The bill includes an emergency provision requiring proprietary chemical formulas to be disclosed to a treating physician, the state or EPA in emergency situations where the information is needed to provide medical treatment.

Most states have primacy over these types of wells, and the intent of the act is to allow states to ensure safe drinking water, according to a release from Ryan’s office. EPA would set the standard, but a state would be able to incorporate hydraulic fracturing into the existing permitting process for each well, so this would not require any new permitting process.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.