On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency took the first step toward requiring drillers to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations, releasing an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” seeking public comment on the topic.

The EPA has not yet drafted a proposed regulation, but said in the notice that it will consider both mandatory and voluntary rules.  The EPA explained that the
“mechanism could be regulatory (under [Toxic Substances Control Act] Section 8(a) and/or Section 8(d)), voluntary, or a combination of both, and could include best management practices, third-party certification and collection, and incentives for disclosure of this information.”

In a statement, assistant EPA administrator James Jones said that the “announcement represents an important step in increasing the public’s access to information on chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.”

Among other things, the EPA will consider requiring disclosure of the identity, amount, type, and circumstances of use for the chemical substances and combinations used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Also on the table are health and safety studies relating to particular chemicals or chemical combinations.

According to Jones, the plan is to “complement but not duplicate existing reporting requirements.”

 The notice comes nearly a year after the EPA first indicated its intent to seek public comment on chemical disclosure, and more than two and a half years since environmental groups petitioned the EPA to issue disclosure rules.

The public comment period will be 90 days from the date the notice is published in the Federal Register.

Further news coverage can be found herehere, and here.