Environment
10:55 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Senate Leader Says He Was “Not Even Aware” Of Fracking Bill

A bill that would require natural gas drillers to disclose the mix of chemicals they use in a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing has apparently gone under the radar of the state senator in charge of overseeing the industry.

State Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had first heard of House Bill 3328 last week.

“We're two weeks away from the end of the session, and I found out about it three days ago.

"I was not even aware of the bill, had never been contacted about it," Fraser said.

HB 3328 cleared the Texas House last week after it was changed to limit the amount of information drillers would have to disclose. Environment Texas director Luke Metzger says, for example, that only chemicals deemed hazardous by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration would have to be publicly revealed.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that this hadn’t really been brought to Sen. Fraser’s attention,” Metzger told KUT News, “because I think, frankly, the industry didn’t think it would get this far.”

“Now that there’s a deal, that [industry] is comfortable with this language, they’re not fighting it anymore in the senate,” he said.

Metzger says he is still pleased the bill is advancing, even though its provisions are not as strict as he would prefer.

The fracking disclosure bill is also important for researchers investigating claims that fluids used in the extraction process are polluting drinking water. University of Texas geologist Chip Groat is leading a multidisciplinary team to probe the environmental effects of fracking. In an interview with KUT last week, he said it makes it much easier to confirm or dispute those reports if scientists know what they’re looking for.

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