Fracking Disclosure Not Enough, Says Activist Group

Published February 5, 2012

Colorado’s new rules requiring disclosure of fracking fluids may have broad support, but they don’t go nearly far enough to satisfy environmental activist groups. Speaking at the Energy, Utility & Environment Conference on January 30 in Phoenix, Arizona, Environmental Defense Fund Chief Counsel Mark Brownstein said Colorado and other states need to impose new rules and regulations that go beyond disclosure.

Calls for More Regulations

“Colorado has recently enacted some regulations that are fairly good regarding disclosure of fracking fluids. We hope that other states will pick up on the disclosing requirements that Colorado has enacted,” said Brownstein. “Nevertheless, disclosure is really only one piece of the regulatory reforms that need to be put in place to ensure the public that hydraulic fracturing is being done in a safe manner that protects the environment and public health.”

Increased natural gas production provides “real opportunity for our country, but also challenges,” said Brownstein. “Key regulatory reforms need to take place. We need better data about methane leaks and venting that occur in the supply chain. If we want natural gas to be a growing component of our energy supply, we need to reduce methane emissions.… We also need more data on air quality, water quality, and other environmental issues affected by fracking.”

Regulate, But Don’t Ban

Brownstein said he did not categorically oppose natural gas fracking. He emphasized, however, he believes more regulations and restrictions should be imposed before environmental activist groups can be comfortable that natural gas fracking is being done in an environmentally safe manner.

“What we hope to see in the not-too-distant future is a concerted effort to upgrade regulations. Regulations need to keep up with the continuing advances in technology,” Brownstein explained.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.