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Energy and Environment

Fracking Companies May Soon Have To Disclose Chemical Use

Kansas utility regulators are considering requiring oil and natural gas companies to disclose information about the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking.

An attorney for the Kansas Corporation Commission outlined these proposed new rules Monday for a joint legislative committee that reviews administrative regulations.

Fracking uses water under high pressure to crack open rock formations and release oil and natural gas.

The information would have to be listed on a KCC database or in an existing online industry database.

Companies could avoid disclosing all of the details if the chemicals they used were a trade secret. Those substances still would have to be disclosed to the KCC and other state and local officials if there's a problem, even a non-emergency.

KCC's attorney Ryan Hoffman says other states require this much of these companies.

Zack Pistora with the Kansas Sierra Club says the proposed rules are "a good step," but added, "We still don't have full transparency from the oil and gas industry."

Groups like the Sierra Club say fracking threatens groundwater supplies. Oil and gas industry officials say the process is safe.

State agencies don't need legislators' permission to put new administrative regulations into effect. However, lawmakers can suggest changes and - if they feel strongly enough - push legislation to overturn any rules.

The KCC will hold a hearing on August 10 in Wichita. Attendees can learn about the proposed rules for fracking there, and the KCC is taking comments in writing or via email.