Remember President Obama's promise that — on federal lands, at least — drillers would have to disclose all the chemicals they used in hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells?
He made it in his 2012 State of the Union speech,  saying: "And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use." Well, in the most recently proposed federal fracking rule, it is pretty easy for drillers to avoid disclosure by claiming those chemicals are trade secrets.
The Interior Department on May 16, 2013, announced its proposed revisions to a fracking rule it had originally proposed back in May 2012. That proposal allowed drillers to avoid disclosing chemicals by claiming trade secrets — and also didn't require disclosure until after wells were completed and the chemicals were in the ground. Interior withdrew it for revision after industry complaints that it was too burdensome.
The new proposal still allows companies to claim trade secrecy on chemicals in fracking fluid. It allows drillers to fulfill disclosure requirements on the remainder by submitting them to FracFocus — a controversial database run by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Groundwater Protection Council (both NGO associations of state agencies). Environmentalists have complained that the FracFocus database does not allow adequate disclosure. FracFocus was revised in May, though it hasn't yet won much praise from environmentalists.
- "Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Request for Comment: Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands,"  Federal Register, May 24, 2013, pp 31636-31677.
- "New Fracking Rules Proposed for U.S. Land,"  New York Times, May 16, 2013, by John M. Broder.
- "U.S.: Disclose Fracking Chemicals on Public Land,"  Associated Press, May 16, 2013.
- "Scaled-Back U.S. Fracking Rule Draws Qualified Praise,"  Bloomberg, May 16, 2013, by Mark Drajem and Jim Snyder.
- "Greens Slam Obama for Draft Rules About Fracking on Federal Land,"  Quartz, May 17, 2013, by Todd Woody.
- "BLM Fracking Rules Just Got More Industry-Friendly,"  The Goat Blog (High Country News), May 21, 2013, by Sarah Gilman.
- "Proposed Federal Fracking Rules Weaker Than in Previous Draft"  MarketWatch, May 20, 2013, by Claudia Assis.
- "Obama Administration Unveils Fracking Rules,"  E2 Wire blog (The Hill), May 16, 2013, by Ben Geman.
- "Obama Admin. Approves ALEC Model Bill for Fracking Chemical Fluid Disclosure on Public Lands,"  DeSmogBlog, May 20, 2013, by Steve Horn.
- "5 Fatal Flaws in President Obama's New Fracking Regulations,"  Huffington Post, May 21, 2012, by Kassie Siegel (Center for Biological Diversity).
- "Bloomberg Finds Holes in FracFocus’ Database,"  StateImpact Pennsylvania, August 14, 2013, by Scott Detrow.
- "New Proposal on Fracking Gives Ground to Industry,"  New York Times, May 4, 2012, by John M. Broder.
- Previous Stories: SEJ WatchDogs of June 5, 2013 ; April 24, 2013 ; and January 25, 2012.