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Industrial Commission says proposed EPA rules on frack fluids are unnecessary

The state Industrial Commission is on record saying the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule making on “frack fluids” is unnecessary.

The EPA issued an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” concerning chemicals that are used in fracking. An environmental group called “EarthJustice” – along with a number of other groups – asked EPA for rules.

"They (EPA) received this petition Aug. 4, 2011, and a week later, FracFocus went live," said state Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms. FracFocus is a Web site where companies disclose the fluids used in fracking for oil and natural gas.

"FracFocus does nearly everything the petition asks for," Helms told the Industrial Commission. "It does chemical disclosure for about 78,000 hydraulic fracturing treatments nationwide. So it makes the EPA rulemaking unnecessary."

Helms says he is concerned that the environmental groups want to end “trade secret” protection for companies that are trying different kinds of frack fluid.

"It's very important that we allow companies who manufacture and use hydraulic fracturing chemicals to invest in newer, greener, cleaner chemicals," said Helms. "And the only way they're going to do that is if they can have some trade secret protection when they initially introduce those chemicals as they're developing a market."

Helms says that trade secret protection is temporary – and the chemicals eventually are disclosed.

Comments to the EPA are due in mid-August.

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