The DOE panel aligned with industry claims that the risk that fracking fluids could contaminate groundwater is remote. But the panel also found "there is no economic or technical reason to prevent public disclosure" of the chemicals. The benefit of addressing public concern about the composition of the fracking fluids "outweighs the restriction on company action, the cost of reporting, and any intellectual property value of proprietary chemicals."
Industry groups have fought public disclosure in Washington and in gas-producing states, citing trade secrets.
The panel stopped short of calling for a sweeping federal rule, but recommended that "regulatory entities" immediately write rules to require full disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals on public and private lands. State and federal agencies would be part of that.
It called for the creation of a national database of all public information about shale gas development. And it recommended that state and federal governments help fund data collection by nonprofits such as the Ground Water Protection Council and an independent multi-state gas regulation peer-review board.
The panel said companies should measure and publicly report the use and disposal of water during the drilling process, and it urged companies to start sharing information on best practices in building and maintaining wells.
In interviews, panel members said the national debate about gas should focus on the full process of extracting gas, not focus exclusively on "fracking."
"Bread-and-butter drilling needs to be done right," said Susan Tierney, a former assistant secretary of Energy and a member of multiple environmental boards and of the National Petroleum Council.
Reporter Mike Soraghan contributed.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500