During a Natural Resources Committee hearing, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the dangers of certain chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and how the Department intends to implement a proposal to monitor them as outlined by President Obama in the State of the Union address.
Fracking is the process used to extract natural gas throughout the Marcellus Shale deposit, which incorporates parts of Western Maryland, and creates wastewater that contains these unregulated and potentially-harmful chemicals. This wastewater has the potential to contaminate tributaries in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
"We've had the industry sit before this committee in the past and hide the ball when it comes to the specific chemicals that are being used," Congressman Sarbanes said. "What are you trying to ascertain about the content of these chemicals?"
Secretary Salazar assured Congressman Sarbanes that it was the Department's goal to implement a fracking rule that ensures any chemicals being injected into public land are not harmful to people or the environment.
When Secretary Salazar last testified before the Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Sarbanes affirmed his support for meaningful disclosure requirements for fracking chemicals and the regulation of fracking wastewater disposal.