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Sep 10, 2010 8:53 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

EPA wants to know chemicals used in gas drilling

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking nine natural gas service companies to voluntarily list the chemicals used in the process that extracts natural gas from deep below the earth.

The federal agency said Thursday that the data is key to its study of the health impact of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, which forces millions of gallons deep underground to release natural gas from shale formations. The companies have largely sought to protect their chemical formulas, calling them proprietary.

Environmentalists are concerned the chemicals, some of them carcinogens, will taint underground water supplies.

The EPA is taking a new look at fracking as gas drillers swarm to the lucrative Marcellus Shale region in the northeastern U.S. and blast into other shale formations around the country.

Fracking is currently exempt from federal regulation.

The process is touted as the key to unlocking huge reserves of clean-burning natural gas.

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