By Geena Martinez
WEST TEXAS - A bill just passed through the Texas legislature could change how the entire oil industry operates. It would force oil companies to disclose what chemicals they're putting into the ground.
If you live in West Texas, a pump jack isn't hard to find but if you're looking for the chemicals used in oil and gas drilling, those are a little harder to come by.
But that's about to change if Governor Perry agrees with environmentalists and now even companies in the oil industry itself.
"This was a thing the industry supported," Morris Burns, former President of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, said. "This was a kind of preventive measure, a pre-emptive strike."
State lawmakers just passed a bill that requires oil and gas companies to let the public know what kinds of chemicals they're using during the hydraulic fracturing process.
Better known as "fracing", the process pushes water sand and other chemicals to crack rocks where oil and gas are, but environmentalists argue those chemicals are dangerous.
"It's a chicken little deal, the sky is falling," Burns said. "We've been using it for 60 years, and only in the last few years, has anybody discovered that we're using it and now we're all of a sudden contaminating groundwater."
He said chemicals used are kept to a minimum.
"There is not one single case in 60 years where fracturing has contaminated groundwater," Burns said.
Morris said New York has already outlawed fracing and Pennsylvania is trying to do the same but this bill is a way to keep that from happening.
"If we do away with hydraulic fracturing, that's going to severely damage the oil industry in this area," he said. "People want dollar gasoline but they don't want us to drill for and produce oil."
Some companies initially had concerns about disclosing the chemicals because of competition.
Morris said that shouldn't be an issue anymore, but he feels oil and gas companies are caught between a rock and a hard place. No pun intended.
"If you don't disclose then they say 'Oh my goodness, they're pumping these horrible carcinogens into the ground,'" Burns said. "If you do disclose then they say 'OK you disclosed that, now we need to know what you're going to do about the lizard and all these other things."
The bill is now waiting to be looked over for consideration by Gov. Perry and Burns said he expects the governor to sign it into law.