The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it wants to gather public comment on whether it should require chemical manufacturers to disclose the content of fluids used for oil and gas production, a possible step toward greater federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The agency on Friday released an "advanced notice of proposed rulemaking" that came partly as a response to a petition by the environmental group Earthjustice under a section of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
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The group had asked the EPA to require chemical manufacturers and processors to publish detailed information about the content of fluids used in fracking. It also requested that those companies submit all health and safety studies available on those fluid mixtures.
Hydraulic fracturing is regulated on a state-by-state basis and currently does not face significant federal oversight.
The oil industry has in recent years become more transparent about the mix of chemicals and fluids they use to frack thousands of wells across the country, disclosure of which is already required in many of the biggest oil and gas producing states.
But environmental groups like Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council seek stricter oversight.
The EPA had denied other parts of Earthjustice's 2011 petition, including a request for companies to conduct toxicity tests on fracking liquids.
The agency said in its initial response to the 2011 petition that it would take an approach that would "minimize reporting burdens and costs" and try to avoid duplication. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Susan Heavey)