In response to concerns voiced by many Commonwealth residents about the chemical makeup of fracking fluids used by well drillers, Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) Wednesday introduced House Bill 24 to require full public disclosure of the chemical composition of the fluid used to hydro-fracture the shale in the production of Marcellus natural gas.
"The use of water-based fracturing during the natural gas drilling process has caused concerns among many, not only in Pennsylvania, but also in other states where this process takes place," said Rep. Everett. "This legislation will give the public detailed knowledge of the chemicals being used and the density or percentage so that everyone can be better educated on the contents of the water used to "frack" these Marcellus wells. This, to me, is an obvious part of having the openness and transparency necessary to help all Pennsylvanians and our neighbors better understand and be more comfortable with the hydro-fracturing process."
The forthcoming bill will require a well operator that uses the hydraulic fracturing process to register its frack water treatment information on the Groundwater Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission's website and provide the information to the Department of Environmental Protection to be posted on the department's website.
"Throughout the course of the Marcellus Shale development, water quality has been a prime area of concern that I have consistently heard from both the general public and environmental groups," said Rep. Everett. "The full disclosure of this information is good not only for our residents, but for the industry as well. In the end, this public and full disclosure will reassure people that we know what is in this fracking fluid and that these chemicals are being used in concentrations that are not harmful to the environment. I believe this is a good piece of legislation for all concerned.
"A number of the gas developers are already voluntarily disclosing this information to the public and developers always have been required to provide the information to DEP," said Rep. Everett. "However, this legislation will require DEP to make this information available to the public and will apply to all companies doing hydro-fracturing."
Rep. Everett said generally, fracturing fluids are comprised of greater than 99.5 percent water and sand with less than 0.5 percent comprised of other chemicals.
The sand is used to hold the fractures open when the pressure is decreased after the hydro-fracturing process is complete and the chemicals used include: a friction reducer which makes the water "slippery" and reduces the amount of friction in the pumping water, thereby allowing the water to be pumped at the pressure and volume required to cause the proper fracture size; a scale inhibitor which prevents mineral buildup; a biocide kills any bacteria collected in the water prior to pumping; and a mild acid that prepares the stimulated area of the shale to accept the fracturing treatment.
"None of these chemicals are by themselves or when combined considered 'hazardous,' and many, if not all of them, are contained in household cleaning and disinfectant products commonly used in our homes," added Rep. Everett. "It is my hope that the disclosure of the chemical composition of the water used in the hydro-fracturing process will allay the concerns of many people and allow us to move on and address other really important Marcellus-related concerns."