Fracking industry refusing to report which chemicals they’re using

In the latest example of the Big Energy choosing which laws they want to follow, a new study shows that the fracking industry fails to disclose the chemicals or quantities of chemicals used during the fracking process up to 30% of the time, depending on the state. Attempts by states to rely on industry self-reporting are not showing great success.

Yes, a business needs to keep certain information secret, but the results to date hardly look fair, or even safe. Between problems with drinking water contamination and environmental cleanup issues, these programs need a second look. How could it possibly be considered fair to leave locals wondering about safe drinking water and put their trust in companies that have something to hide?

toxic environment water fracking

Toxic via Shutterstock

Also, how are local authorities supposed to respond to an accident – and accidents happen – when they aren’t aware of what chemicals are being used on the process? Isn’t this putting these people at risk if there are unknown chemicals? If they have to prepare for everything, this could also slow down the response, potentially causing even more problems.

The fracking industry has relied on “environmental” groups for support, but even those groups are having doubts about this system. Maybe these “business-friendly” environmental groups were hoping for the best, but now that the fracking industry is making a mockery out of the self-disclosure, they might not be as eager or willing to provide cover to this industry.

Bloomberg on the latest problem related to fracking.

The 19,000 trade-secret claims made in Texas this year through August hid information that included descriptions of ingredients as well as identification numbers and concentrations of the chemicals used. Overall, oil and gas companies withheld information on about one out of every seven ingredients they pumped into 3,639 wells.

In 5,000 other instances, Texas well operators failed to disclose information without saying why, filling in boxes on forms with “N/A” or “mixture,” for example, or leaving them blank. Such omissions raised the total to almost seven secrets per well from about five.

Nationally, companies claimed trade secrets or otherwise failed to identify the chemicals they used about 22 percent of the time, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of FracFocus data for 18 states. The data were compiled and released this month by SkyTruth.org, a website that uses data and digital mapping to investigate environmental issues.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • IonOtter

    This is simple.

    Walk up and request to speak to the foreman. Don’t dress like a “greenie” or a “hipster”, but don’t dress like a lawyer, either. Be polite and friendly, and request to see the MSDS folder. (Material Safety Data Sheet)

    The foreman will bring you inside the office and you’ll be free to peruse the entire folder. If they have a copier, you can politely request to use it and make copies. I’d suggest bringing a ream or two of paper to replace what you use.

    This will work, because all companies are bowel-explosion terrified of having OSHA come down on them for non-compliance. And OSHA *does* perform random tests, so they train all employees to know about the MSDS, their locations and how to use them.

    Everyone and anyone who works with *any* kind of chemicals, from the kid mopping the floor in the grocery store, to the 3-doctorate degree scientist working in USAMRID, have all been carefully trained and conditioned to provide the MSDS upon request, without hesitation. They might ask questions, but they can’t deny your request to see them unless there’s a hazardous situation.

    Now, what *you* do with those copies afterwards could get you in a whole HEAP of trouble, depending on how smart or stupid you wanna be.

  • hollywoodstein

    There oughta be a law.

  • Naja pallida

    They’ve learned their lesson well with previous big chemical issues… thalidomide, DDT, asbestos, dioxins… now if we just claim the formula is proprietary and that we can’t give out trade secrets, if people get sick, they can’t prove it was us!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yep, because we all remember how well it turned out with Dow Chemical telling us there really wasn’t anything to worry about with these secret (dioxin-based) compounds they were dumping everywhere. Nothing to worry about! Ignore all those birth-defect afflicted kids all over the world and adults dropping from cancer like it was as contagious as a head-cold. Clean drinking water is overrated anyway, right?

    The only upside it seems to all this is it’s turning out there is way, way less gas in that shale than was originally estimated.

  • ComradeRutherford

    The shareholders demand 300% profit increases every quarter! Who cares how many people have to die! Who cares if the world is destroyed in 2 quarters, only this quarter counts!

  • cole3244

    what fracking aholes they are.

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