Gov. Hickenlooper hails fracking disclosure rules as national model
DENVER — Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today applauded the collaborative efforts of the oil and gas industry, many environmental groups and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in approving new hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure rules.
The new rules, endorsed by industry and environmental groups and approved by the nine-member Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), require oil and gas operators to publicly disclose all chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of their wells, while still recognizing and protecting trade secrets.
The mandatory disclosure rules will take effect April 1, 2012, and apply to all oil and gas wells hydraulically fractured in Colorado.
“These new rules give Colorado the fairest and most transparent set of fracking regulations in the country and will likely server as a model for other states,” Hickenlooper said. “We commend everyone involved for coming together to create a chemical disclosure rule that marks another big step forward for Colorado’s responsible regulation of this important industry. We believe oil and gas development can thrive while also meeting our high standards for protection of public health, water and the environment.”
The amended rules adopted today require that operators post the hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals used to hydraulically fracture a well, as well as the concentrations of each chemical, to the disclosure website www.FracFocus.org. Disclosure must be made within 60 days of completion of hydraulic fracturing.
The rules strike a balance by recognizing and protecting industry trade secrets. Such confidential business information is already protected by state laws, including the Colorado Open Records Act and the Colorado Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and major federal environmental statutes. Regulators and medical professionals, however, can still obtain trade secret information upon request under the rules. Further, operators must file a form ensuring trade secret claims meet the appropriate definition, and sign an affidavit – under penalty of perjury – that chemicals cited qualify for trade secret protection.
The rule builds upon major progress in chemical disclosure associated with oil and gas development. In 2008, nationally groundbreaking amendments to COGCC rules mandated disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to state regulators and health professionals upon request. Earlier this year, the COGCC worked with industry for voluntary disclosure to the publicly available FracFocus.org website. Since then, operators have posted information on about half of the wells drilled this year in Colorado to the site, with substantially all of the state’s largest operators participating.