EPA Delays Potential Fracking Chemical Disclosure Mandates

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) extended the public comment period for its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”) for hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure rules.  The USEPA initially requested public comment on May 9, 2014 by issuing the ANPR.  This set a 90-day public comment period, slated to end on August 18, 2014.  The July 11 announcement extends the public comment period for 30 days, setting the new deadline for September 18, 2014.

The USEPA issued the ANPR in response to a citizen petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”).  The purpose of the ANPR is to solicit public comments in order for the USEPA to gather information to “develop an approach to obtain information on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing.”  ANPR, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019; FRL-9909-13, at 1.  According to the USEPA’s recommendations in the ANPR, the “mechanism” for obtaining chemical information may be both regulatory and/or voluntary, under TSCA Sections 8(a) and 8(d).  Id.

The USEPA’s goal in this process is to develop and ensure external transparency.  Additionally, the agency seeks incentives to “support the development and use of safer chemical substances and mixture in hydraulic fracturing.”  Extension of Comment Period, EPA-HQ-OPPT-2011-1019; FRL-9912-42.  The USEPA announced that it aims to avoid duplicative federal and state regulation on this issue.