The oil and gas industry is starting to see some cracks in its to-date united front against federal oversight of the common drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to ProPublica and other media sources.
A pair of gas-industry executives back East recently admitted that disclosure of the chemicals added to water and sand and injected into wells to crack open tight rock formations and free up more gas might actually be in the best interest of the industry.
Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, according to Reuters, told a conference in Connecticut that “we need to disclose the chemicals that we are using and search for alternatives.” Range Resources CEO John Pinkerton called the secrecy surrounding the chemicals by such drilling-services companies as Halliburton “silly.”
During the Bush administration, fracking was granted an exemption from EPA oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But anecdotal and increasingly physical evidence of possible groundwater contamination from fracked gas wells prompted U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, to reintroduce the FRAC Act this past summer to remove that exemption.
According to ProPublica, a bipartisan group of senators recently pushed for an intensive study of fracking to be included in climate-change legislation being debated in both the House and Senate. That might mollify the industry, which has been waging a fierce P.R. campaign against DeGette’s FRAC Act, but it likely won’t pacify fracking critics.
“Just because they are coming around to see the light of day on this and starting to agree with us doesn’t mean we are going to fold up and go home,” DeGette spokesman Kristofer Eisenla told ProPublica. “It does validate what we are trying to do here.”
So far in Colorado, the industry continues to strongly oppose the legislation.