If you want to know what's in that "fracking" fluid a drilling company is pumping into underground formations near you — you may be out of luck if you live in Wyoming.
A Wyoming county district judge ruled March 25, 2013, that a company did not have to disclose the ingredients used in the fluids it pumped under high pressure to fracture gas- and oil-bearing rock. Environmentalists had sought to make the ingredient list public.
Natrona County District Judge Catherine Wilking ruled that the identity of the ingredients could be withheld as a trade secret.
State laws on fracking fluids are a patchwork. Many of the states where fracking is happening require no disclosure. Wyoming is one of the states whose laws seem to require some "disclosure" of fracking fluid ingredients. But like most such states, the Wyoming law has an exemption for "trade secrets." That allows companies to withhold disclosure, even though the general range of ingredients used is mostly known. Withholding disclosure of specific recipes obscures definite fingerprinting when and if fracking fluid shows up in the wrong place.
- "Who’s Fracking in Your Backyard?"  Slate, August 2, 2012, by Tim McDonnell.
- "Wyoming Wins Fracking Lawsuit When Judge Sides with State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission,"  Associated Press, March 25, 2013, by Mead Gruver.
This is one of the stories in the March 27, 2013 issue of SEJ's biweekly WatchDog. Find the rest of the stories and past issues here.