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Two New CRS Reports on Hydraulic Fracturing

  • Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Issues, Mary Tieman, Specialist in Environmental Policy; Adam Vann, Legislative Attorney – April 10, 2012: “Its application, along with horizontal drilling, for production of natural gas (methane) from coal beds, tight gas sands, and, more recently, from unconventional shale formations, has resulted in the marked expansion of estimated U.S. natural gas reserves in recent years. Similarly, hydraulic fracturing is enabling the development of unconventional domestic oil resources, such as the Bakken Formation in North Dakota and Montana. However, the rapidly increasing and geographically expanding use of fracturing, along with a growing number of citizen complaints and state investigations of well water contamination attributed to this practice, has led to calls for greater state and/or federal environmental regulation and oversight of this activity.

  • Hydraulic Fracturing: Chemical Disclosure Requirements, Brandon J. Murrill, Legislative Attorney; Adam Vann, Legislative Attorney, April 4, 2012: “Chemical disclosure laws or proposals at the state level vary widely. Of the 11 current laws and three proposals examined in this report, only a few require direct public disclosure of chemical information by mandating that parties post the information on the FracFocus chemical disclosure website. The level of detail required to be disclosed often depends on how states protect trade secrets, as these protections may allow submitting parties to withhold information from disclosure at their discretion or to submit fewer details about proprietary chemicals, except, perhaps, in emergencies. Even if a disclosure law does not protect information from public disclosure, other state laws, such as an exemption in an open records law, may do so. States also have varying laws regarding the timing of these disclosure requirements.”

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