The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted unanimously two weeks ago to approve new rules that require oil and gas companies in the state to disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing of underground formations during drilling. The fossil fuel industry boasts enormous clout in the state, and the vote suggests that the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill may be convincing regulators that tougher oversight is needed, even in places where the oil and gas industry is viewed as an ally.
Hydraulic fracturing—commonly called fracking—involves pumping a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into well bores at high pressure to free gas from tight rock formations thousands of feet below ground. The practice is increasingly controversial because of vast new shale gas discoveries, aboveground spills of chemicals, and suspected contamination of underground drinking water supplies.
Approval of the new rules puts Wyoming at the forefront of state efforts to require stronger oversight of fracking. The federal government should take note and follow Wyoming’s lead in requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking.
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