Halliburton merger means uncertain future for Baker Hughes fracking disclosures

HOUSTON — Baker Hughes won wide praise last month when it began implementing a more transparent way of revealing the ingredients in its hydraulic fracturing fluids.

But the future of those disclosures is unclear now that Halliburton — which has lately been lobbying against those types of disclosures — is poised to acquire Baker Hughes.

For all jobs that began on or after Oct. 1, the disclosure forms that Baker Hughes submits online to the website FracFocus no longer include any “trade secret” designations.

Many companies use the “trade secret” exemption to avoid complete disclosures of their fracturing fluid ingredients. Environmental advocates say full disclosures allow communities to track potential contamination and are critical for emergency responders. They lauded the move by Baker Hughes.

Halliburton officials say it’s too early know how the integration of the companies will play out. One of the questions that remains is whether it will continue Baker Hughes’ new disclosure practice.

“So long as Halliburton adopts the same approach as Baker Hughes, there won’t be an issue, but the question is: Will they? We don’t know the answer,” said Mark Brownstein, associate vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund.

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