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"FRAC Act" Would Set National Standards

May 10, 2013

CASPER, Wyo. – Congress will be wading into questions about water quality related to hydraulic fracturing in Montana, and across the country. The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act or "FRAC Act" has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. It would require the oil and gas industry to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing and to comply with the Clean Water Act in any development.

Brad Powell, a Trout Unlimited policy director with the group Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, expects the legislation would set minimum baseline standards for impacts on water.

"We just think it's just common sense to take care of the water, to ensure that chemicals that are used on public lands are known by people that live in the communities," says Powell.

Wyoming has what's often considered the toughest water quality standards in the country. Two members of Congress from Colorado co-sponsored the bill - there is no Wyoming support at this point.

The Western Energy Alliance – an oil and gas industry advocacy group – says states are better suited to understand the unique conditions within their borders. But Powell points to a patchwork of regulations that don't always protect private property and public health.

"The states have a wide range of interpretations of how the hydraulic fracturing should be managed," he says. "Those regulations are continuing to be updated and changed."

Powell is heading to Washington, D.C., next week to talk with representatives from the U.S. Interior Department about standards for fracking on public lands. The department is expected to release an updated set of fracking rules sometime this month.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY