With the full text of the oil spill/we-can't-do-cap-and-trade-so-we'll-go-small bill now released, Sen. Bob Casey scored a win by getting language into the legislation dealing with hydraulic fracturing of natural gas. The issue is huge in Pennsylvania because of the Marcellus Shale, and Casey this week chaired a hearing in Pittsburgh dealing with emergency response when things go bad at gas wells.
The bill includes some of the provisions from Casey's "Frac Act." Per his office, those are:
· Amends the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which was designed to help local communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards.
· Requires a well operator to disclose, to the state and to the public, a list of the chemicals used in each hydraulic fracturing process, including chemical constituents (but not the proprietary chemical formulas), Chemical Abstracts Service registry numbers and material safety data sheets. If the state does not have a disclosure program in effect, requires disclosure directly to the public.· Requires disclosure to be well-specific.
· Requires disclosure of a propriety formula or chemical constituents to a treating physician or nurse in the case of a medical emergency. A confidentiality agreement may be obtained as soon as circumstances permit.
· Removes threshold limitations normally required under EPCRA, so that all amounts of chemicals are required to be reported.
The gas industry has strongly opposed the Frac Act in the past -- arguing that the chemicals are mostly known already and have been in use for decades -- so it will be interesting to see if this incites additional controversy with the spill bill as it hits the floor in the coming days.