The EPA has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking concerning fracking operations in the oil and gas industry.

In what is likely to be a highly scrutinized process, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking the first steps toward regulations that could require companies to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” operations.

In response to a petition filed in 2011 by the environmental group Earthjustice and more than 100 other green organizations pressing for mandatory testing and reporting rules, the EPA issued this month an advance notice of proposed rule-making.

Many environmental groups have raised concerns over various chemicals used during the fracking process, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground in order to fracture rock and unlock trapped oil and gas. In particular, the EPA is looking at how disclosure rules might be reconciled with trade secrets or data deemed to be proprietary or confidential business information.

The agency stressed in a notice filed with the Office of Management and Budget that it is merely putting out a call for feedback from those involved and interested parties and “is not committing to a specific rulemaking outcome.”

“EPA anticipates that States, industry, public interest groups, and members of the public will be participants in the process,” the agency said. “The stakeholder process will bring stakeholders together to discuss the information needs and help EPA to ensure any reporting burdens and costs are minimized, ensuring information already available is considered in order to avoid duplication of efforts.”

For more information on the advance notice, go to:

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