Will new fracking disclosures be enough to settle controversy?


Earlier this week, Texas became the first state to require that drilling companies disclose the chemicals and amounts they use in hydraulic fracturing. It’s a big step, and one the industry should have embraced years ago. Instead, energy companies’ resistance to disclosing the contents of their “fracking” fluids has helped fuel public fears about the safety of extracting natural gas from shale formations.

Not surprisingly, critics have been quick to say that the new disclosure law in Texas, and similar, weaker measures in a few other states, don’t go far enough. Translation: the fight ain’t over.

Oil companies wonder why are have become such convenient villains, especially for environmental groups, but the fracking issue provides an answer. They are so willing to play the role.

As the fracking controversy grew, the industry’s knee-jerk response was to close ranks, to head for the bunker. Companies claimed that the ingredients were some sort of secret recipe, and revealing the contents would be giving away trade secrets. The most closely guarded corporate secret on earth is the formula for Coca-Cola. Yet everyone can lists the contents.

Finally, the industry has decided to get behind the disclosure measures, in hopes of heading off growing public resistance to fracking.  At Chesapeake Energy’s annual meeting last month, CEO Aubrey McClendon, told investors: “We have seen the light.”

The question, unasked by investors in attendance, was “what took you so long?”

Now, the public fears surrounding fracking — whether valid, unfounded or somewhere in between — are the driving force behind the issue. How likely are the recent moves by Texas and other states to quell those fears?

Loren Steffy

4 Responses

  1. […] allowing natural gas to flow. A major concern among anti-fracking activists, though, has been the industry’s resistance to disclose the chemicals […]

  2. bg says:

    You are spot on Energy Moron. I would also add that anti-frac groups are really just repackaged obstruction group organizers that honed their tactics in the logging and mining wars out west. Same tactics-different venue, and they all have many junior newswire drones as Tweet faves. They are also keenly aware that the same 8th grade level science educated public exists in all parts of this country.

  3. Energy Moron says:


    I disagree with your analysis on this.

    The problem is the way the problem has been formulated.

    If the problem was clearly stated that there were instances of lack of protection of drinking water supplies in PA and we need to ensure the integrity of the water supply who in their right mind would have argued with this (well, actually, there are some bad apples who take short cuts but the majority of companies wouldn’t have argued with you).

    But no, instead you get the pseudo-science Gasland urban legend which does nothing to address the legitimate issues so you get a…

    food fight.

    Just like between the Republicans and the Democrats.

    There is no middle ground anymore and the media polarization has much to blame.

    The issue is not fractures it is the protection of potable and brackish groundwater and as long as the media continues to misrepresent the issue the controversy will swirl.

    I guess in the tradition of yellow journalism and Hearst.

  4. Dollar says:

    Ohhh yeah, and you jump on the pile, and want to blame the companies for creating this fear , that is really just fear mongering by the anti-fossil fuel people.

    Man, are you that naive about the politics of this and about the source of this fear mongering ??

    But ohhhh, its the companies fault …………hahahahaha

    You just lookin for clicks.