Montana News

May 6, 2012 12:46 PM by Marnee Banks (

Interior Secretary Salazar addresses new fracking rules

The federal government is proposing new regulations for oil companies that engage in a practice known as hydraulic fracturing, often called "fracking."

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Friday announced a plan which requires oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking is the process of injecting highly pressurized water, chemicals, and sand into the ground in order to create cracks in the rock which allow oil and gas to be extracted.

The proposed rules would force companies to make sure fracturing fluids do not leak into groundwater or aquifers.

Salazar said, "That is a comprehensive effort to boost the safe and responsible production of every available domestic resource."

However, oil and gas companies in Montana are already required to report what chemicals are being used.

They are also required to have a spill and containment control plan in order to ensure the chemicals are handled safely.

Dave Galt of the Montana Petroleum Association noted, "There is a whole world of misconceptions about fracking, probably designed misconceptions by those that don't want oil and gas development going on in the United States."

However, the Montana Environmental Information Center reports landowners need to know what chemicals are in their wells before fracing begins in order to ensure the wells aren't being contaminated.

Derf Johnson, MEIC policy advisor, said, "The EPA just released a study which showed a link between hydro fracking and groundwater contamination. That is a bell you can't unring. When you contaminate an aquifer, that is something that provides a community with water and livestock producers and irrigators, that really negatively impacts communities."

The Montana Petroleum Association reports there have been no reports of groundwater contamination due to fracking and the State of Montana already has a handle on the management of these operations.

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