The EPA is seeking comments on a proposal that would require or incentivize the voluntary disclosure of fluids used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Non-disclosure of fracking fluids has been a hot topic in recent years and people still debate whether the drilling technique is truly safe or if it poses real threats to public health and the environment. In response to citizen petitions, the EPA is asking that the public participate in the possible reform.
According to the EPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), “EPA is requesting comment on the design and scope of potential regulatory or voluntary approaches, or combination of both approaches, to obtain information on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing. EPA invites comments on all aspects of this ANPR, including the description of hydraulic fracturing activities presented in Unit II.A. Comments should provide enough detail and contain sufficient supporting information in order for the Agency to understand the issues raised and give them the fullest consideration. Comments should include alternatives, rationales, benefits, technological and economic feasibility (including costs), and supporting data. Supporting information should include any information that substantiates your conclusions and recommendations, including, but not limited to:
“Experiences, data, analyses, studies and articles, and standard professional practices. If referring to a particular well site as an example, please identify the company name of the well site operator, well name, latitude and longitude coordinates and American Petroleum Institute (API) identification number, if available.”
EPA is requesting comment on the following questions:
1. Should all information be required to be reported or should there be a voluntary mechanism for some or all information?
2. Would a combination of mandatory reporting and voluntary disclosure be effective? If so, what would that combination consist of? Why?
3. What types of information, if any, should be required to be reported? Why?
4. How could any required reporting activities be designed to better facilitate compliance?
5. What types of information, if any, should be reported and/or disclosed voluntarily? Why?
6. What are the best management practices for the generation, collection, reporting and/or disclosure of information from or by companies?
7. Are there particular systems in place that already use these best management practices? Please identify these systems.
8. To what extent are these best management practices widely adopted? Please provide evidence regarding the extent of use of best management practices.
9. How could incentives be structured to ensure effective voluntary disclosure of information on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing?
10. Are there incentives that could be used in combination with regulatory requirements for information disclosure to promote practices that go beyond compliance (e.g., incentives that encourage reporting in addition to that required by regulation)?
11. What information collection tools and resources are available to support and promote safer chemical use and other sustainable practices (e.g., some form of cradle-to-grave chemical management)? Please explain.
12. What factors should be considered for distinguishing among different types of companies for the purpose of incentives?
13. What information collection tools and resources are available to support, incentivize, and promote safe and sustainable practices? Please explain.
14. How could collected information be used to better inform safe and sustainable practices? For example, would providing information or guidance on improved chemical use across different types of firms involved in hydraulic fracturing better inform safe and sustainable practices?
15. What mechanisms could be developed to make information that is reported to EPA publically disclosed and available?
16. How could information reported and/or disclosed under any such mechanism be used to better inform research and development of chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing?
The EPA is also seeking answers to numerous other questions. You can read the full prepublication version of the ANPR document below. The EPA is asking that you submit comments at www.regulations.gov. The docket number for this rulemaking is EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019.