Republican Governor Rick Perry, a conservative who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy by the end of the summer, signed a bill last week that will require the full disclosure of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process used in natural gas production. The law – the first of its kind – will go into effect next July.
Other states have enacted requirements to disclose chemicals used in the process, which is also called “fracking,” though none have become law. The states include Arkansas, Wyoming, Colorado and Pennsylvania.
The bill drew support from the energy industry, though environmentalists say the bill doesn’t go far enough. “We support disclosure,” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, a pro-fracking organization that represents independent natural gas and oil producers throughout America. “We want to put the information out there in the proper context. We think that’s a good thing.”
Fracking is a method of extracting oil and natural gas from rock layers deep in the ground using high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.
Opponents, like Food & Water Watch, say fracking can contaminate drinking water. In a recent publication, the organization wrote that both the chemicals used and the natural gas that’s released can contaminate aquifers and wells. Energy in Depth argues that the typical liquid compound contains 99.51 percent water, and only 0.49 percent additives. Some of these additives include sodium chloride (table salt), guar gum (a thickener used in ice cream, cosmetics, and salad dressing), isoproponal (used in glass cleaner, antiperspirants and hair color), and citric acid. In addition, they say, these chemicals are contained thousands of feet underground and pose no risk that far down.