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Policy

Wyoming Tightens Fracking Disclosure

by Jessica Morrison
February 2, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 5

Under a legal settlement, Wyoming regulators will adopt stricter standards for scrutinizing claims by oil and gas drilling companies that the chemical ingredients of fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are trade secrets. The settlement stems from a 2012 lawsuit brought by environmental groups that challenged the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission’s criteria for granting trade-secret exemptions. Critics charge that the exemptions are a loophole allowing the fracking industry to skirt chemical disclosure rules. But industry representatives argue the information should remain confidential, saying companies would be put at a competitive disadvantage relative to their rivals if the chemical ingredients were disclosed publicly. Starting this week, the settlement requires drilling companies to submit detailed information about fracking fluids, including public disclosures in other jurisdictions, commercial value, and steps taken within the company to protect chemical identities as trade secrets. A provision in the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 places fracking under the regulatory authority of the states.

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