It’s an improvement, but it doesn’t go far enough and it’s not even in the books yet. This probably means Big Energy will have time to water down the already watered down rules. The proposed new rules include publishing a list of the chemicals being used for the public but there are of course, loopholes.
Interior Secretary Salazar claims that the requirement for using the loopholes are going to be limited but if history tells us anything about this industry and their relationship with governments, the loopholes will be miles wide and abused early and often.
The other problem is that the new rules will not force the fracking companies to publish the chemicals before drilling, so there could be many unpleasant surprises for local communities with their drinking water.
For this new proposal to work, it’s going to require some tough minded people to hold Big Energy accountable and there’s very little history that suggests we will see that. Even if it passes “as is” the next administration could easily lower the bar for Big Energy and ignore complaints about polluted water sources and side with Big Energy. More on the proposed changes at Nature.com.