WASHINGTON, DC – This week, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse joined nine of their Democratic colleagues in reintroducing the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act in an effort to increase environmental protections for communities located near where natural gas drilling takes place. “Fracking” is shorthand for high-pressure, high-volume horizontal fracturing, and involves a process that injects a mixture of large quantities of pressurized fluid, gas, sand, and chemicals into the ground in order to extract natural gas and oil trapped in shale formations.
The FRAC Act would require drillers to disclose the chemicals that are being injected into the ground during the hydraulic fracturing process, and would close a 2005 loophole that prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from conducting rigorous oversight of hydraulic fracturing during natural gas drilling.
“People have a right to know what’s being pumped into the ground in their communities, and if the chemicals being injected have the potential to leech in to a community’s water supply, they need to be disclosed,” said Senator Reed. “We need to hold fracking operators and drilling companies accountable and ensure that the process for extracting natural gas is done safely, responsibly, and with adequate oversight by environmental protections. This legislation will ensure that fracking won’t occur at the expense of public health and the environment.”
“Every American family deserves to know what’s in their drinking water,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill would strengthen protections for people who live near oil and gas sites to make sure all fracking chemicals used are disclosed and the EPA can conduct strong oversight of the drilling process.”
The FRAC Act would require that the natural gas industry provide complete disclosure of the chemical composition of hydraulic fracturing materials prior to and after hydraulic fracturing. The information will then be made public on a website. Disclosure will ensure that if drinking water supplies, surface waters, or human health are compromised, the public and first responders will be properly informed. The FRAC Act would also require that hydraulic fracturing be once again included under the Safe Drinking Water Act, ensuring that a consistent set of requirements will be applied to the development of resources.
Other cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).