The Texas Tribune
A “fracking” operation near Big Wells, in which
water and chemicals are injected deep underground
to extract oil and natural gas.
Starting Feb. 1, drilling operators in Texas will have to report many of the chemicals used in the process known as hydraulic fracturing. Environmentalists and landowners are looking forward to learning what acids, hydroxides and other materials have gone into a given well.
But a less-publicized part of the new regulation is what some experts are most interested in: the mandatory disclosure of the amount of water needed to “frack” each well. Experts call this an invaluable tool as they evaluate how fracking affects water supplies in the drought-prone state.
Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into underground shale formations at enormous pressure to extract oil and natural gas. Under the new rule, Texans will be able to check a Web site, fracfocus.org, to view the chemical and water disclosures.
“It’s a huge step forward from where we were,” Amy Hardberger, an Environmental Defense Fund lawyer, said of the rule.
Most fracked wells use 1 million to 5 million gallons of water over three to five days, said Justin Furnace, president of the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association.
A June study prepared for the Texas Water Development Board suggested that less than 1 percent of the water used statewide went into fracking. Oil and natural gas groups say such numbers show their usage lags well behind that of cities.