On December 13, 2011, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission unanimously approved new hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure rules that will go into effect April 1, 2012. The nine-member Commission worked with industry and environmental groups on crafting the rules. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper credited all of the parties involved, saying, “These new rules give Colorado the fairest and most transparent set of fracking regulations in the country and will likely serve as a model for other states.” Both industry and environmentalists have praise for the rule:
· Tisha Schuller, President & CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association -“[W]e have gained a model process to bring together industry, environmental advocates, and regulators to ensure energy development continues in keeping with protecting the environmental resources of our state.”
· Michael Freeman, a staff attorney with Earthjustice, which represented environmental groups in negotiations - “Overall, we are pleased with the strength of this rule…While all sides made compromises in the rulemaking, the requirement for disclosure of all chemicals and concentrations in fracking fluids makes Colorado a leader in state disclosure policy.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” injects pressurized fluid underground to fracture rock layers to enable the extraction of fossil fuels. Fracking raises environmental, health, and safety concerns, but Colorado’s rule will address these issues with a comprehensive and industry-supported approach. Whereas some states only require certain fracking chemicals to be reported, Colorado will require companies to report all chemicals used in fracking and their concentrations. The rule, however, will not require reporting of how fracking chemicals are combined in the extractive process. Companies must make their reports on an independent public website, www.FracFocus.org, within sixty days of completing fracking activity. Trade secrets will remain protected by federal and state laws, but regulators and health care professionals may request confidential information about fracking processes, and companies must file an affidavit that their confidential information meets legal definitions. Overall, the rule reflects an on-going collaboration of state regulators, industry, and environmental groups and sets an increased standard for transparency.
Governor Hickenlooper Press Release (12/13/2011)
Colorado Oil & Gas Association Press Release
Earthjustice Press Release
Denver Post story - "Hickenlooper: Colorado's frack fluid disclosure rule will be a model for the nation"