"In Fracking Debate,' Disclosure' Is in the Eye of the Beholder"

"In the intense but inscrutable debate about the chemicals that drillers inject underground to flush out natural gas, this much can be said: Everyone is for disclosure.

But there's no agreement on what 'disclosure' means when it comes to the oil and gas process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. And that means they disagree on nearly everything.

Fracturing -- vital to extracting gas from shale formations -- involves injecting tanker-loads of water and sand into a gas well to blow apart the rock and release the gas. A small fraction of that concoction is a mixture of chemicals as mundane as ice cream thickener and as toxic as benzene.

Worried that those chemicals could contaminate groundwater, environmentalists, community groups and some Democratic lawmakers are demanding detailed, well-by-well information about the type of chemicals that drillers inject. And they want it put on the Internet for all to see. ...

Companies say they, too, are for full disclosure of the ingredients, but only to state regulators and medical personnel willing to sign confidentiality agreements. Making public detailed lists of chemical constituents, they say, gives away valuable trade secrets. And they see the drive for disclosure as a stalking horse for harsh new restrictions on drilling that would bog down gas production in the United States."

Mike Soraghan reports for Greenwire June 21, 2010.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010