Environmental Stewardship

Sunshine Week: Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act

Celebrate Sunshine Week with ALEC Ideas!

During the first part of the 21st century, some of the greatest examples of American ingenuity and achievement took place in and around the oil and gas patches across the United States. In the early 2000s, wildcatters combined two well-established technologies – hydraulic fracturing (colloquially referred to as “fracking”) and horizontal drilling – to recover previously inaccessible hydrocarbons trapped in shale rock. The resulting boom transformed the domestic energy landscape and provided many states with much-needed revenue and many Americans with much-needed employment during the Great Recession of 2008.

While hydraulic fracturing is not new technology – the first successfully fracked commercial well dates back to 1949 – the process has recently garnered a great deal of attention due to the success of the Marcellus, Bakken, Permian and other shale basins across the country. For the uninitiated, hydraulic fracturing is a well-stimulation technique that uses water pressure to literally fracture shale rock in order to stimulate the flow of oil and natural gas. The fluid used in this process is comprised of roughly 90 percent water, 9.5 percent sand and 0.5 percent chemical additives. Although many of these chemicals can oftentimes be found in common household cleaners and other similar products, environmental and other activist groups have (erroneously) suggested these additives pose significant risks to the nation’s groundwater supplies.

Despite scant evidence of hydraulic fracturing posing anything more than, at most, a minimal environmental impact, ALEC has adopted the model Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act, which would require the operator of a fracked oil or gas well to publicly report the total amount of water and a list of the chemical additives used on an online disclosure registry known as “FracFocus.” Significantly, over 20 states currently require the oil and gas industry to use the registry, which is currently maintained by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Although domestic production of oil and natural gas has taken something of a hit due to the depressed global oil prices, the industry is poised to rebound, as oil prices inevitably increase in the coming years, and continue to be a global leader in transparency.


In Depth: Environmental Stewardship

Listen to any news broadcast, read any press release from an environmental advocacy group or simply watch the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) propose new regulation after new regulation, and it would be nearly impossible to not come away concerned or even fearful of imminent environmental disaster. It should come …

+ Environmental Stewardship In Depth