Hydraulic Fracturing, also know as “fracking”, processs by which companies inject water, sand and chemicals under high pressure thousands of feet underground to obtain shale gas, has been a topic under debate for some years now. Environmentalists have been requesting to the companies involved in this process to disclose the chemical composition of the fracking fluid, alleging that some of this chemicals have been contaminating the water surrounding the “fracked” areas. The Washington-based Environmental Working Group said some of the chemicals already disclosed by the companies are known to cause cancer or reproductive harm .
Since 2010, The U.S. Interior Department, under the Obama’s administration began consideration of regulations for ensuring that natural gas and oil from shale on federal lands is being obtained in a safe way. Finally, in a few weeks, a set of federal rules for fracking on public lands is going to be released, (including a rule for disclosing the fracking fluids composition). The proposed federal standards will be compatible with rules already in place in states such as Wyoming and Texas, and will allow limited exemptions for “legitimate trade secrets,” David Hayes, the deputy Interior secretary, said today .
Federal rules governing fracking have taken on new importance following President Barack Obama’s advocacy in his State of the Union address for drilling for natural gas in shale, which he said will mean the country doesn’t have to “choose between our environment and our economy” .
I believe that this demonstrates the great effort that the Obama administration is doing towards this problem that has been of great importance during the past few years. In some sense, this set of federal rules will force these companies to invest more resources in the research and development of cleaner and safer technologies, in order to exploit the proved shale resources. One of the biggest fears the government and the people should be aware of is the fact that these companies can just avoid disclosing their “formulas”, claiming its confidentiality under the trade secret law.
Finally, I would like to share a related short video that talks about how is fracking presumably affecting underground water (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV6Xm4e0De0).