A House Republican criticized the largest natural gas driller in the Barnett Shale Wednesday over efforts to delay efforts to require drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing.
The bill, which has received support from both environmentalists and industry groups this session, passed the Texas Senate Wednesday but only after an effort to delay part of its implementation was defeated.
State Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, said "representatives" of Devon Energy were behind a Senate amendment that would have pushed back parts of a chemical disclosure program between one and two years. Devon had publicly supported the version of the bill that passed the House, with the disclosure program starting in January 2012.
"They haven’t been negotiating in good faith," Keffer said. "It would be a real shame for them to be standing in the way of disclosure."
The House version of the bill requires companies to disclose the fracking chemicals for every new well to the Texas Railroad Commission and a third-party database starting January 2012. Companies would be allowed to protect public disclosure of some chemicals by claiming they are "trade secrets"
When the bill reached the Senate floor, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, offered an amendment that would push back the starting date for disclosing carcinogenic chemicals to September 2012 and all other chemicals to September 2013. Hegar said the delay made sense because of fracking studies that are under way, including one by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, the senate sponsor of the bill, backed Hegar’s amendment, but three North Texas senators — Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Florence Shapiro, R-Plano — worked to kill it.
The amendment died, 21-9.
Devon spokesman Chip Minty said the company’s position has always been clear.
"We continue to support the bill, or at least not oppose it, and we supported the amendment because we thought it made sense given the EPA study," Minty said.
Hegar was able to amend the bill to include another piece of legislation — an overhaul of the Texas Railroad Commission that has been mired in negotiations. Lawmakers have until the session’s end on Monday to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of both bills.