Kansas regulators considering new fracking rules

Kansas utility regulators are considering

new rules

to require oil and natural gas companies to disclose some information about the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, but representatives of an environmental group said Monday that the regulations wouldn’t go far enough.

An attorney the Kansas Corporation Commission outlined the

proposed rules

Monday for a joint legislative committee that reviews administrative regulations. The KCC plans to have a hearing Aug. 10 in Wichita on the proposed rules and is taking comments in writing or by email.

The rules would require companies to disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, with water under high pressure to crack open rock formations and release oil and natural gas. The information would have to be listed on a KCC database or in an existing online industry database.

Companies could avoid disclosing all of the details if the chemicals they used were a trade secret. Those substances still would have to be disclosed to the KCC and other state and local officials if there’s a problem, even if it’s not an emergency.

“This is as far as other states have gone,” said Ryan Hoffman, the KCC attorney who outlined the proposed regulations for legislators.

Environmentalists contend hydraulic fracturing is threat to groundwater. Zack Pistora, a lobbyist for the Kansas Sierra Club, said the proposed rules are “a good step,” but added, “We still don’t have full transparency from the oil and gas industry.”

“They’re kind of cherry-picking what they want to tell you,” he said.

The oil and gas industry sees the process as safe. And last week, a federal study on hydraulic fracturing showed no evidence of chemicals from the process at a western Pennsylvania site moving up to contaminate drinking water aquifers.

State agencies don’t need legislators’ permission to put new administrative regulations into effect. However, lawmakers can suggest changes and – if they feel strongly enough – push legislation to overturn any rules.