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Texas, Colorado Drillers Must Disclose Fracking Chemicals

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Texas and Colorado approved rules today requiring oil and natural-gas operators to report the chemical ingredients used in new hydraulically fractured wells beginning next year.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the industry in the state, said any well receiving an initial drilling permit beginning Feb. 1 will be subject to the new chemical-disclosure rules, according to an e-mailed statement today.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will require similar reporting two months later, Dave Neslin, director of the commission, said today in a telephone interview. Both require the operators to report chemicals to the public website FracFocus.org.

Colorado also said if FracFocus doesn’t make additional searching features available on its website by February 2013, the commission will offer that on its own website, Neslin said.

“In many ways, the Colorado rule can serve as the model for states across the nation,” said Matt Watson, a senior energy policy manager at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington D.C. “That’s a big deal. Making this information available in user-friendly formats is an important advancement.”

Increasing Demand

Demand for fracking has tripled over the past five years as operators use more rigs to drill horizontal wells to chase rising energy prices on land rather than in expensive deep-water projects. Environmental groups have said the technique has tainted drinking water in states such as Pennsylvania, where 4,100 wells have been drilled.

Before the rule passed, operators in both states were voluntarily reporting chemicals to FracFocus for about half of all wells being completed with the so-called fracking technique, the two commissions said.

The Texas Railroad Commission was directed to establish a disclosure process in a bill approved by a vote of 137-8 in the Texas legislature on May 29. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper kicked off his state’s pursuit of mandatory chemical disclosure in the summer, Neslin said. Other gas-producing states including Wyoming, Colorado, Arkansas and Michigan also require companies to reveal some of the materials used in fracking.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wethe in Houston at dwethe@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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