In an effort to help protect the public from exposure to toxic chemicals, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks and Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) went to court today to ask a judge to require the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) to disclose information about chemicals used during the controversial oil and gas development process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Pavillion, Wyoming. "Produced" water is brought back to the surface after fracking takes place. The water and fracking fluid is placed into evaporation ponds. (Ecoflight)
Under regulations approved in 2010, Wyoming became the first state in the nation to require well operators to disclose the identities of chemicals that are mixed with water and injected into the ground during fracking. But since the regulations were adopted, the Commission has approved some 50 secrecy requests, shielding identifying information about over 190 different chemicals, by Halliburton and other oil and gas service companies.
Attorneys with the public interest environmental law organization Earthjustice argued the case today in Natrona County District Court for the State of Wyoming, asking a judge to rule whether WOGCC acted illegally in granting the trade secrets requests and arguing that companies must reveal the identities of chemicals used during fracking.
The case could set a broad legal precedent—as the states of Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Montana, and Michigan all have fracking chemical disclosure regulations similar to Wyoming’s on the books.
The following is a statement from the groups involved in the case: “We went to court today because the public has a right to know what chemicals are being transported, stored, and injected underground during fracking. Some of these chemicals can be harmful enough to be associated with cancer, nerve damage, and other public health concerns. We appreciate Wyoming’s leadership in making more of this information available. But without a complete list of fracking chemicals, it’s much more difficult for residents to determine whether their drinking water has been contaminated by oil and gas development. We are arguing that protecting public health should be the state’s priority. We hope the court agrees.”