Though federal regulation may not come out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s study on hydraulic fracturing techniques, the blueprints for it are almost ready. Fuelfix.com has the article on the EPA’s study that will examine the safety of the way natural gas is being unlocked from shale across America.
To release natural gas, mixtures of sand, water, and chemicals that are injected deep underground under high pressure to crack open the shale formations. The potential environmental damage, including water contamination, has sparked protests. Risks of explosions have also been raised due to escaping natural gas from poorly designed and secured wells.
The Interior Department is considering imposing chemical disclosure requirements, but this will only cover federal lands. Oil and gas companies have taken the initiative to develop a voluntary registry where they can disclose the chemicals used in their fracturing fluids. Moreover, the American Petroleum Institute has already published best practices for water management at fracturing sites, and has now also released ways to reduce their runoff.
State and local governments currently regulate the drilling process. Determining whether there are holes in this existing structure will be one of the determinations made from the study, which may or may not result in federal rules for hydraulic fracturing. The scope of this congressionally mandated study was the topic of hearings around the country last year. The hope is that it will relieve skepticism on the safety of fracturing techniques.