EPA Begins TSCA Rulemaking Process for Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals

May 15, 2014

Following on the heels of its February guidance on fracking with diesel fuels, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regarding whether and how to require manufacturers and processors of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to report their composition and usage and to disclose health and safety studies.

Signed May 9, 2014, by the EPA administrator, the ANPR initiates a public participation process to help the agency craft its response to a 2011 TSCA petition by environmentalists who called on the agency to develop regulations requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals.

The ANPR indicates that the agency is considering a variety of approaches, including reliance on voluntary reporting mechanisms, to address the petitioners’ concerns. Complicating that effort, however, is the agency’s stated intention to coordinate its efforts with the Bureau of Land Management’s pending hydraulic fracturing rules, which have been delayed repeatedly in recent years.

The ANPR marks the beginning of what is likely to be a multiyear EPA effort, one that may wind up simply endorsing FracFocus.com, a voluntary online repository for well-specific fracking chemical data. The public will have 90 days to comment on the ANPR upon its publication in the Federal Register, currently slated for June.

(The unofficial, prepublication version of the ANPR is available here.)