On Wednesday, in House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Chair Representative Brian Egolf, presented HB136 which would require operators to disclose all of the chemicals they use in their fracturing liquid. More than 2 dozen hands flew up when Vice Chair Representative Jeff Steinborn asked if anyone in the audience wanted to testify about the bill. That’s a lot of interest. Here’s what we know:
CVNM supports the bill because New Mexicans have a right to know everything that could, even potentially, pollute our water.
There is a disclosure law on the books. The Oil Conservation Commission’s (OCC) rule requires disclosure of all chemicals in fracturing fluids, however 1) the rule only applies to chemical additives that are covered under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that have material safety data sheets and 2) 84% of fracturing fluid disclosures in New Mexico claim trade secret protection. That means those chemicals don’t currently need to be disclosed.
HB136 would allow landowners on whose property a well is located and adjacent landowners to challenge a claim of trade secret with the OCC. It also defines what can be categorized a trade secret.
Due to the amount of discussion from the committee, the bill has been rolled over and will be discussed again on Friday. The committee meets at 8:30 a.m. in Room 315.
Another bill that addresses hydraulic fracturing and potential groundwater contamination has been introduced by Representative Egolf (HB335). This bill has yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing. If passed, the bill would ensure the testing will be done on groundwater before, during and after drilling. If the water is contaminated, the burden to prove that the drilling process did not contaminate the water is placed on the operator. It’s called presumptive causation.
There will be a lot of hands in the air to talk about that one too.
Each bill protects our water resources, which are the lifeblood of our state.
If you’re interested in keeping up with bills and when they will be heard in committee, visit ProtectNewMexico.org.