Several Wyoming-based environmental advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit against a state regulatory agency they believe is blocking their request to public records regarding hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling.
According to an AP report, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks, and OMB Watch have sued the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, claiming the state agency has blocked repeated attempts to access records regarding the contents of fracking fluids used in the state.
These advocacy groups and others across the country are trying to get natural gas, oil, and fracking drilling companies to fully disclose the contents of fracking fluid, a mix of more than 600 chemicals which are ushered through an underground horizontal well shaft until it reaches a bed of shale.
Through the faults of the fracking itself combined with additional dangers from poorly-constructed wells, many believe these fluids and gases created in the drilling process are escaping the well shaft and permeating groundwater and soil table surrounding the wells. Several studies suggest people living within a mile of an active fracking well face the greatest risk of water contamination caused by the drilling process.
The companies using fracking to extract natural gas and oil from underground rock have insisted on keeping a select few dozen of these 600 chemicals secret from the public, identifying them as “trade secrets.” However, the organizations suing the Wyoming agency and pressuring similar state and federal agencies to disclose these chemicals and other substances believe those being held as “trade secrets” are among the most dangerous. Based on a report earlier this week, even doctors in Pennsylvania are barred by law from telling patients suffering from the effects of localized fracking contamination the chemicals they were likely exposed to.
An official within the Wyoming regualtory agency told DailyRanger.com the state has the strictest laws in the U.S. on fracking drilling. The state requires full disclosure of all contents used in the process. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission told the source it has approved 50 of 52 requests made of its open state records.
As per the most recent complaint against those rules and the state’s purported adherence to following its own rules, the suing groups say the Wyoming commission “didn’t provide ‘factual support’ for withholding as trade secrets information from Baker Hughes; CESI Chemical; Champion Technologies; Core Laboratories; Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.; NALCO Company; SNF, Inc.; and Weatherford International,” according to the report.
The companies and others conducting fracking drilling across the country would like to maintain that the fracking exploration process is not responsible for any water or air pollution but recent federal studies have found that exploratory wells dug near Pavilion, Wyo., showed that contents of nearby wells had polluted the water collected from the test wells.
This was the first federal study to positively link fracking drilling to water contamination, likely opening the process to more scrutiny and the companies conducting it to legal action from those who’ve been directly impacted by the unwanted effects of it.