Friday, March 29, 2013

Fracking Fluid Foes Fucked

A judge in Casper has sided with the state of Wyoming and ruled against environmentalists who sought to obtain lists of the ingredients that go into hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Environmental groups had requested the ingredient lists from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, arguing that the public needs to know what chemicals companies are putting underground.   Specially formulated lubricants are used in fracking, which involves pumping water, fine sand and fracking fluids underground to split open oil- and gas-bearing rocks.

Wyoming became one of the first states to require companies to disclose to state regulators the ingredients in hydraulic fracturing chemicals. The goal was to help the regulators track the source of any groundwater contamination that might occur at or near a drilling site.

Environmentalists say public knowledge of the chemicals can help landowners near oil and gas projects know what types of pollution to test for in their groundwater. Such testing targeted at certain chemicals can be done before or while drilling occurs and help to establish that well water is not polluted by those chemicals.
The environmentalists' request for the chemical composition of fracking fluids was originally denied on the grounds that the information constituted trade secrets that may be withheld under Wyoming's open records law.  Natrona County District Judge Catherine Wilking then upheld the denial, ruling that the state official who withheld the information acted reasonably.

"We continue to believe we have strong claims, and we're still concerned the Wyoming oil and gas commission is withholding this information from the public," said Shannon Anderson, an attorney for the resource council.

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