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EPA Requests Information on Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals

EPA has asked nine hydraulic fracturing service providers to voluntarily hand over information about the chemicals the companies use in removing natural gas from the ground. The information, the EPA says, will assist in putting together a study on the controversial practice, in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the group to loosen natural gas deposits.

EPA requested from the companies “the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted,” according to a statement from the agency.

Environmentalists and some in Congress have called for better regulation of hydraulic fracturing, including mandatory requirements to disclose the chemicals used in the process. But industry has countered that the specific chemical cocktails used in fracturing are proprietary and they should not have to disclose them.

EPA, in the meantime, is conducting a study on the potential effects of fracturing, but the study won’t be finished until 2012. The companies have 30 days to provide the information and seven days to respond to EPA’s request. Since it’s voluntary, the number of companies that provide the information will be a good test of just how much resistance lawmakers will face if they try to pass a bill that includes mandatory disclosure.

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