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Senate Passes Rule On Fracking Fluid

The Senate has passed requirements for what gas companies must reveal about the chemical mix they pump into ground during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The Senate overrode another state government group’s more stringent rule.

Hydraulic fracturing releases natural gas or oil from shale rocks by pumping a mix of water and chemicals into them until they crack. It’s currently not allowed in the state, but permitting is set to begin in 2015.

The question about what companies must disclose about the mix of chemicals has been one of the most contentious for states opening up to fracking. Joe Rossabi, a vice president at the soil and groundwater cleanup company Redox Tech, says that rule matters during a spill.

“If you’re looking at a potential contamination situation, which you hope won’t happen, you definitely need to understand what the original chemicals were,” Rossabi says.

The bill passed by the Senate says that companies do not have to disclose chemicals that are confidential or a trade secret.

It comes while the state’s Mining and Energy Commission has been on the verge of publishing its own, more stringent rule. That rule would have required companies to disclose all chemicals, but not the measurements of the mix.

State lawmakers set up the Mining and Energy Commission last session to write rules for fracking in the state.

Commissioners were critical of what they saw as the Senate’s usurping their authority, earlier this week. The commission’s Republican-appointed head, Jim Womack, wrote to lawmakers “this one simple change has reinvigorated anti-drilling fervor across the state; an outcome the MEC has worked tirelessly to avoid.”