Texas becomes first state to enact hydrofracking rules

July 20, 2011

On June 17, 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed Bill HB 3328 into law, making Texas the first state to require public disclosures of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or "hydrofracking," operations.  Hydrofracking is the process of using pressurized fluids to create fractures in rock to assist in the recovery of hydrocarbons.  The new disclosure requirements are a result of heightened public concern about potential contamination of water resources from hydrofracking fluids.

The legislation creates two avenues of disclosure.  First, for chemicals subject to Material Safety Data Sheets ("MSDS"), the legislation requires the well operator to post the list of chemical ingredients on a publicly-accessible website.  Second, for non-MSDS chemical ingredients intentionally included in the fluid, the legislation requires the information to be provided to the Texas Railroad Commission in a publicly-accessible form.  In order to balance the disclosure requirements, the legislation creates a process to protect trade secrets that may be at risk due to the disclosure obligations.  As well, the total volume of water used for hydrofracking operations must be posted and filed with the Texas Railroad Commission.

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