Wyoming gas regulators set to vote on new hydraulic fracturing rules

Wyoming oil and gas regulators are poised to vote today on hydraulic fracturing rules that appear to have a surprising level of both industry and environmental support, according to the Associated Press.

The rules spearheaded by outgoing Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who’s also a Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner member, would require operators to disclose to regulators the types and proportions of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Operators inject mostly water and sand, as well undisclosed chemicals, at extremely high pressures deep into natural gas wells to fracture tight geologic formations and free up more gas. In Colorado, rules adopted more than a year ago require operators to keep lists of chemicals onsite and make them available to emergency responders in the event of a spill or groundwater contamination.

Wyoming’s new rules would preempt federal legislation being weighed in both the House and Senate requiring broad public disclosure. Industry officials have opposed such laws for proprietary reasons, claiming they need secrecy for competitive reasons.

The issue has become a talking point for no fewer than six candidates vying to replace Freudenthal, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

“The public should have confidence that if there is an issue, the state has the necessary information to investigate,” a Shell Oil Co. spokeswoman in Denver told the AP regarding the proposed Wyoming rules. Colorado oil and gas industry representatives continue to oppose federal legislation and the new state rules.

Republicans in Colorado have made the new rules a campaign issue, saying the job-killing regulations should be rolled back or scrapped altogether.

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