Compelling Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals

Photo by Horia Varlan. Some rights reserved.

Yesterday, The Hill’s E2 Wire reported on one of the latest attempts to extract information from drilling companies on the chemical make-up of liquids used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

This time, in Wyoming, a group of public health and environmental organizations are petitioning the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC, whose website gives this one a run for its money) in attempt to make public documents submitted to WOGCC by manufacturers of products and chemicals used in the industrial process of hydraulic fracturing. The petitioners claim that WOGCC’s earlier denial of a request for such documents was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the law.”

According to the petition, Wyoming requires an owner or operator of an oil or gas well that will be hydraulically fractured “to provide to WOGCC ‘detailed information’ about the products and chemicals used, including the identities of all chemical additives and compounds,” and that “under Wyoming’s Public Records Act, the information supplied to WOGCC by oil and gas well operators are public records that must be made available for public inspection except in certain narrowly defined circumstances.”

Earthjustice, one of the petitioners, announced last week’s action in a press release. The petition was filed late Friday in Wyoming’s Seventh District Court.

Despite what appears to be pandering to industry interests, WOGCC doesn’t seem all that popular if you browse the SEC filings on Knowledge Mosaic. A search for Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission brings up mention of the Commission in quite a few public company risk factors, most in the vein of “Recently, for example, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission passed a rule requiring disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluid content. At this time, it is not possible to estimate the potential impact on our business of additional federal or state regulatory actions affecting hydraulic fracturing.”

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