Major Federal Fracking Legislation Introduced -- Return of the FRAC
Yesterday, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act was re-introduced in both the House and Senate. The House bill (H.R. 1084) was introduced by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Jared Polis (D-CO) and has 31 co-sponsors to date. Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced the companion Senate bill (S. 587), with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) as original co-sponsors. Congresswoman DeGette and Senator Casey were the lead sponsors of the FRAC Act in the previous Congress.
The legislation would repeal the current exemption for hydraulic fracturing under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the SDWA to preclude EPA from regulating the underground injection of fluids (other than diesel fuel) for hydraulic fracturing purposes. In repealing the exemption, the FRAC Act would require disclosure of the chemical constituents used in the fracking process, but not the proprietary chemical formula (an emergency provision is included requiring disclosure of the proprietary chemical formula if the information is needed for the provision of medical treatment). Under both bills, disclosure would be to the State regulatory agencies (or to EPA, if EPA has primary enforcement responsibility in the State) and the chemical additives would be made publicly-available online.
Senator Casey introduced two other drilling-related bills on Tuesday, commenting, "[n]atural gas drilling offers Pennsylvania tremendous economic opportunities if we do it right." Senator Casey's S. 589, the Faster Action Safety Team Emergency Response (FASTER) Act authorizes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to draft regulations to strengthen emergency response procedures at oil and gas wells. S. 588, the Marcellus Shale On-the-Job Training Act, authorizes grants to strengthen on-site training programs for the natural gas drilling and production industry to "ensure the jobs are going to Pennsylvanians."