New West Virginia rules for fracking

July 13, 2011 at 8:03 AM
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CHARLESTON, W.Va., July 13 (UPI) -- Companies working in shale gas deposits in West Virginia need to disclose compounds in the hydraulic fracturing fluid before starting, the governor said.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin filed an executive order directing the state's environmental agency to disseminate new regulations concerning drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale deposit.

Under the executive order, companies must provide a list of additives in the fluid used to release natural gas from shale deposits. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February said eight of the nine companies that practice fracking voluntarily handed over information to help the agency examine the practice.

The United States has some of the richest deposits of shale gas in the world. U.S. lawmakers expressed concern that chemicals used during fracking, the process used to extract natural gas from shale rock formations, are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful and could get into groundwater supplies.

"This executive order is the first step in my long-term plan to ensure responsible development of Marcellus Shale," Tomblin said in a statement.

Operators in Michigan under new measures passed in May are required to post a Material Safety Data Sheet listing characteristics of the chemical additives used in fracking fluid.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said fracking has been practiced in the state without incident for more than 70 years.

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