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EPA Initiates Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) re Transparency in Reporting Fracking Chemicals

On May 19th, EPA published an ANPRM in the Federal Register requiring the reporting and analyzing of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). EPA had delayed regulatory action for several years as environmental groups debated whether more transparent public disclosure was critical to ensure public safety, while industry representatives responded that regulation within their borders should be left to the states. The move largely comes as a result of insistence by Earthjustice and 114 other environmental groups, arising from a petition seeking greater federal involvement filed more than three years earlier. 

“EPA’s announcement represents an important step in increasing the public’s access to information on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing activities,” said James Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “EPA looks forward to hearing from the public and stakeholders about public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, and we will continue working with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to ensure that we complement but not duplicate existing reporting requirements.”

The ANPRM process allows for the submission of open-ended questions where federal agencies solicit input from industry representatives, stakeholders, public interest groups and the public. Following the 90-day comment period, the agency will evaluate the submitted comments as it considers appropriate next steps, e.g., non-regulatory approaches or a proposed rule.