AUSTIN, TEXAS — As the controversial oil and gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing continues to spread, governments around the world are grappling with how to regulate it. What should happen to the waste after the process, called fracking, ends? What taxes should oil and natural gas companies pay? What about earthquakes and air pollution?
One regulatory trend is becoming well-established: requirements that drilling companies disclose information about the chemicals used in fracking. The process involves shooting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals down a well to extract oil or gas deposited in shale rock. The chemicals are used for functions like reducing friction or killing bacteria. But the particulars of the disclosure requirements can differ significantly, and environmentalists are urging that they be broadened.