The Wall Street Journal reported today that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law Friday a bill that will require companies to make public the chemicals they use on every hydraulic fracturing job in the state. Texas' law is significant because the oil and gas drilling industry, which is powerful in Texas, vocally supported the measure. Opponents to fracking in the Marcellus Shale region of New York and Pennsylvannia have long accused the drilling companies of secrecy for failing to disclose the chemicals used in hydrofracking. Widespread support for this measure, and similar measures in other states, provide some indication of just how untenable the industry's former stance had been. Fracking involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break up oil and gas-bearing rocks. Environmentalists and residents in drilling areas fear that the fracking process may result in chemical contamination of drinking water aquifers. Until now, industry's argument that fracking is safe has been hamstrung by drillers' refusal to disclose the chemicals used. Going forward, the fracking debate can now refocus on the important issues, such as the likelihood that faulty well construction may result in contamination of an aquifer. According to industry spokespersons, tens of thousands of wells have been drilled with relatively few problems. In those rare instances where a problem has been reported, the industry believes that the problem is most likely attributable to an improperly constructed well. Earlier this year, some of the larger gas producers, notably Chesapeake, Chevron and BP, announced that they would voluntarily begin to publicize the chemicals they use online at FracFocus.org. This website is a joint project of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
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