Montana Environmental Watchdog Faults New Fracking RulesMay 26, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
An environmental group says fracking disclosure rules set to go into effect in Montana don't go far enough. The Northern Plains Resource Council says the new fracking regulations are lacking because natural gas and oil drillers will be able to keep secret fracking fluid ingredients the consider "trade secrets."
It's known that much fracking fluid contains toxic chemicals, which may even include cancer causers like benzene. But federal laws don't require driller to disclose those chemicals. Some states however have moved to enact their own disclosure regulations as concerns over the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing have grown.
According to a report on Newsinferno.com, the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) will publish a rule today requiring energy companies to either file the chemical names used in fracking fluid with the state board or publish them on a nationwide website, FracFocus.org. The website shows what chemicals are used and in what proportion in each well.
The BOCG will hold a hearing next month to decide whether or not to enact the new rules.
The Northern Plains Resource Council is slamming a provision of the rule that would allow some information to be withheld if it’s “unique to the owner … and would, if disclosed, reveal methods or processes entitled to protection as trade secrets.”
"These rules fall short of fully revealing the chemicals used in fracking and leave the public still guessing about toxic chemicals that could affect their health, livestock, water, and land," said Paul Hawks, a Melville-area rancher and member of Northern Plains Resource Council. "They also do not notice landowners living near proposed wells so that they have the opportunity to test their baseline water quality prior to fracking. I hope the BOGC listens to the public and strengthen these rules.”
The group pointed to several instances where fracking is being investigated as a possible cause of water contamination in making the case for a tougher regulation. These include incidents in the Wyoming towns of Pavillion and Clark. According to the group, federal investigators have found chemicals used in fracking in Pavillion water wells. Also, in Clark, natural gas and trace amounts of benzene, another chemical, have been found in water wells.