By Robert Harding
U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei has cosponsored legislation that would require operators to disclose the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, process.
The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act sponsored by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., would require companies to disclose chemicals used in hydrofracking operations before they start drilling and no more than 30 days after drilling is completed. Under the FRAC Act, the provision exempting the oil and gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act would be repealed.
According to a press release on DeGette's website, while the FRAC Act would require companies to disclose the chemicals they use, it would not require them to disclose "proprietary chemical formulas." The formulas would be protected by the FRAC Act, the release said.
"The FRAC Act would remove the patchwork of different state regulations that the industry currently has to try and comply with, and would set up a consistent and effective system to safeguard fracking operations. As a member of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus I believe this legislation would enhance our efforts to promote the responsible development of natural gas," DeGette said in a statement. "Natural gas is an important economic driver for our nation and for Colorado in particular. As we witness America's natural gas boom, a reasonable, common-sense framework of regulations at the federal level can help us protect our health and our environment, without standing in the way of the economic and energy benefits fracking can provide us all."
Maffei, D-DeWitt, said he supports the bill because it's important to protect central New York's drinking water and for drillers to abide by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
"I am proud to cosponsor the FRAC Act which would repeal the exemption for hydrofracking in the Safe Drinking Water Act. I believe central New York is the best place in the world to live, work, raise a family, and retire. But we need to make sure it stays that way," Maffei said in a statement Monday. "That is why we must take action to protect the health of our children and preserve our environment, our lakes, and our clean water which help drive our region's economy. Central New York's watershed does not stop at the state border. Our watershed and clean water has no state boundaries. That's why hydrofracking needs to be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act."
On the campaign trail in 2012, Maffei called for the continuation of a moratorium on hydrofracking in New York. During a debate last fall, Maffei questioned whether hydrofracking would create jobs in upstate New York.
"Personally, I don't feel like we should ever have hydrofracking in upstate New York," Maffei said at the time. "People say it will create jobs. I haven't seen too much evidence of that. Maybe a temporary job here or there... We have a clean water economy and I believe that our future is because of our clean water. So when politicians say we've got gold under our feet and we need to exploit it, I think what it is is the clean water, not necessarily the natural gas."