Fracking Industry Wins Weak Ingredient Disclosure Rule

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Fracking in Gypsum Hills, Kansas (AP photo)

The Obama administration has proposed a new regulation governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that has angered environmental and consumer groups while pleasing industry.


Upsetting to critics is a provision within the rules (pdf) crafted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that mirrors what ExxonMobil wanted regarding the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.


The regulations “would do little to safeguard our air, water or wildlife,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, wrote. “This draft rule is even weaker than the first version of the regulations, withdrawn after the oil and gas industry threw a fit over not getting a free pass.”


BLM first offered up new rules last year, and after receiving about 170,000 comments from the public, industry and environmentalists, the agency withdrew them. It then revised the regulations, seemingly with changes favored by drillers.


“The new proposed rule not only ignores concerns about the public health and environmental risks of the natural gas drilling method, it also disregards recommendations (pdf) by lawmakers and the U.S. Department of Energy's Shale Gas Production Subcommittee, which called for transparency and full public chemical disclosure,” the Center for Effective Government wrote. “The proposed rule suggests the agency has placed industry concerns ahead of public health and safety.”


Critics have detailed a number of concerns regarding BLM’s latest rules draft. Among them is a provision that allows drillers to not disclose the chemicals they are using until 30 days after they have begun drilling. Another rule allows drillers to withhold trade secrets without being required to explain their reason for doing so. Observers also note that there is little environmental protection included in the draft, including no requirement for well operators to collect and disclose air and water quality data prior to fracking.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

BLM Fracking Rule Bows to Industry, Ignores Public Concerns (Center for Effective Government)

Obama Admin. Approves ALEC Model Bill for Fracking Chemical Fluid Disclosure on Public Lands (

5 Fatal Flaws in President Obama's New Fracking Regulations (by Kassie Siegel, Huffington Post)

Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands (Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management) (pdf)

Pennsylvania Judge, Citing 1776 Law, Orders Fracking Compensation Disclosure (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Fracking Companies Use “Trade Secret” Loophole to Avoid Chemical Disclosures (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Obama Says Frackers Must Reveal Chemicals Used on Public Lands…but only after Drilling is Finished (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

What Chemicals are Used in Fracking? (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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