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Frac Out of Focus: Industry and the slippery slope of voluntary disclosure

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By Gwen Lachelt

May 26, 2011

The oil and gas industry s latest attempt to dodge the disclosure bullet is through a website named Frac Focus. The website, launched last month, states that already 42 companies are participating in an effort to provide the public with objective information on hydraulic fracturing, the chemicals used, the purposes they serve and the means by which groundwater is protected. While there is plenty of information on fracturing, the website falls short on the very issue of disclosure, of all things.

Frac Focus is voluntary, not mandatory, and simply maintains the status quo: companies can hide the chemicals used in their proprietary blends or secret fracking recipes under Trade Secret provisions.

In December 2003, a few months before the first, and highly controversial, EPA study on fracking was released, three companies signed a voluntary agreement with the EPA to stop using diesel fuel in coalbed methane gas wells. A Congressional investigation released this February has revealed that 32 million gallons of diesel fuel were used to frack wells in 19 states between 2005 and 2009.

That voluntary agreement was simply an attempt to throw the public a bone before the 2004 EPA study was released stating that fracking posed little to no risk to the environment. Today, we get a new version of an old trick. Frac Focus is another attempt to sidestep full disclosure and thwart passage of the federal FRAC Act which proposes to repeal the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act and require the full public disclosure of the chemical constituents used drilling operations.

Full disclosure, no exemptions.

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New York Times blows open story of natural gas's toxic wastes

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By Gwen Lachelt

February 26, 2011

Ian Urbina with the New York Times has written a groundbreaking series exposing the pollution caused by natural gas drilling.

This from the first article in a three-part series:

More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than has been previously disclosed. Most of this water enough to cover Manhattan in three inches was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste. Ian Urbina, New York Times, February 26, 2011

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