Disclosure of Fracking Fluid Components

Hydraulic Fracturing, also know as “fracking”, processs by which companies inject water, sand and chemicals under high pressure thousands of feet underground to obtain shale gas, has been a topic under debate for some years now. Environmentalists have been requesting to the companies involved in this process to disclose the chemical composition of the fracking fluid, alleging that some of this chemicals have been contaminating the water surrounding the “fracked” areas. The Washington-based Environmental Working Group said some of the chemicals already disclosed by the companies are known to cause cancer or reproductive harm [1].

Since 2010, The U.S. Interior Department, under the Obama’s administration began consideration of regulations for ensuring that natural gas and oil from shale on federal lands is being obtained in a safe way. Finally, in a few weeks, a set of federal rules for fracking on public lands is going to be released, (including a rule for disclosing the fracking fluids composition). The proposed federal standards will be compatible with rules already in place in states such as Wyoming and Texas, and will allow limited exemptions for “legitimate trade secrets,” David Hayes, the deputy Interior secretary, said today [2].

Federal rules governing fracking have taken on new importance following President Barack Obama’s advocacy in his State of the Union address for drilling for natural gas in shale, which he said will mean the country doesn’t have to “choose between our environment and our economy” [3].

I believe that this demonstrates the great effort that the Obama administration is doing towards this problem that has been of great importance during the past few years. In some sense, this set of federal rules will force these companies to invest more resources in the research and development of cleaner and safer technologies, in order to exploit the proved shale resources. One of the biggest fears the government and the people should be aware of is the fact that these companies can just avoid disclosing their “formulas”, claiming its confidentiality under the trade secret law.

Finally, I would like to share a related short video that talks about how is fracking presumably affecting underground water (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV6Xm4e0De0).

 

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-04/draft-fracking-rule-has-good-elements-environmentalist-says.html

2. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-02/fracking-rules-on-u-s-lands-seen-by-interior-as-state-model.html

3. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-02/fracking-rules-on-u-s-lands-seen-by-interior-as-state-model.html

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Disclosure of Fracking Fluid Components

  1. jeddmartin

    If you’re curious about what they are putting into fracking fluids in that well next door, check out FracFocus (http://fracfocus.org/) – a voluntary fracking chemicals registry where you can search for specific wells.

  2. hnadaraja

    If this article interests anyone, I recommend watching the award-winning documentary “Gasland” by Josh Fox. This film focuses on the dangers of shale gas, specifically the process of hydraulic fracturing. Fox travels around the country to different fracking sites located in people’s backyards. He interviews these homeowners regarding the allegations that the fracking fluid is contaminating the groundwater. A profound moment in the film is when he travels to a home and lights the water coming out of the faucet on fire.

    Josh Fox was in the news almost two weeks ago as well. He was filming a hearing for a sequel in the House Energy and Environment subcommittee that was called to examine EPA findings that hydraulic fracturing had contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming. During this hearing he was arrested by United States Capitol Police for unlawful entry. All citizens are open to attend these hearings, but must need special permission to bring cameras. However, the camera rule is rarely enforced; many high-profile journalists routinely attend hearings without going through the regulatory process. To restrict the freedom of the press is a violation of the first amendment, and to arrest a journalist is a shocking move, even to members of the subcommittee. Preventing the public to view these proceedings is discouraging, especially when so many people’s livelihoods are at stake.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/house-republicans-order-j_n_1246971.html?1328114727

    http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/291361/20120201/gasland-director-arrested-john-fox-hearing-fracking.htm

  3. keithmagdoza

    Fracking is a critical process for the natural gas industry – one that’s here to stay thanks to the dawn of the “Shale Gas Revolution.” Unfortunately, as you’ve mentioned, this process is allegedly disrupting surrounding environments.

    Recently, first-hand accounts have been popping up that describe how nearby fracking facilities have been affecting the health of crops, cattle, and people. Residents living over the Marcellus Shale have reported numerous deaths of livestock; one particular herd of cattle exposed to wastewater had 50% of its population affected by death and failure to breed properly [1]. Also, a woman living near fracking wells in western Pennsylvania discovered that her shower water suddenly turned dark, leaving black marks in her bathtub [2]. These concerns are not met without oppoisition, however. A spokesman for the energy industry group Energy In Depth states that most of these claims are baseless, with little supporting evidence other than word-of-mouth [3].

    With the advent of this debate, I also agree that these new regulations that the Obama administration is putting forward are both necessary and beneficial. The proper steps need to be taken to ensure that the safety of the environment is upheld during this new era of shale gas production.

    1. http://www.businessinsider.com/study-fracking-chemicals-killing-neutering-farm-animals-pets-2012-2

    2. https://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/sos-butler-county-black-water-purple-water-a-fracking-nightmare/

    3. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-08/fracking-s-toll-on-pets-livestock-chills-pennsylvania-farmers-commentary.html

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