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Montanans deserve simply to know what chemicals the oil and gas industry are injecting underground and storing on the surface near our homes and water wells. That is why our Montana lawmakers should move forward to require the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Montana’s Senate Bill 86 sponsored by Senator Bob Hawks does just that and will be heard by our Senate Natural Resources Committee on January 21st.

The oil and gas industry often relies on silly technicalities to claim that we have nothing to worry about in regards to fracturing and that toxic chemicals used in the process needn t be disclosed or tracked by the public.

To say that fracturing is not to blame for incidents of water contamination is to rely on distinctions that don t make a difference. Distinctions like: it wasn t the fracturing that poisoned a landowner’s water well it was weak gas well casing. Montanans and anyone working on farms or ranches know that almost everything is interrelated and connected. The well casing in an oil or gas well must withstand drilling and high-pressured frack jobs in order to keep the toxics in the pipe. Fracturing fluids are important part of the overall picture when considering the fate of all the toxics used and disposed of during the life of an oil or gas well.

The oil and gas industry also often claims that we don t need to know specifically what toxics they use in a hydraulic fracturing job because fracturing fluids are 99% water. Montanans know, like most other people, that 99% isn t the whole enchilada. In fact, less than 1% of a single slick water frack job may include 80,000 pounds of toxics.  That’s 80,000 pounds of chemicals that are toted by your home, left to volatize into the air next to your home, and then put under high pressure within hundreds of feet from your bedroom or your water well. And that’s just the toxics associated with fracturing, not to mention drilling and workover processes.

It’s pretty simple disclosure of chemicals and constituents used in fracturing fluids is a common sense safeguard for landowners and the public, and it’s a critical next step in beginning to take an inventory of the chemicals the oil and gas industry uses in the Treasure State.

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