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Fracking disclosure tested by recent spill in Pennsylvania
Despite leading the charge for voluntary disclosure of fracking chemicals, Chesapeake Energy is now resisting revealing what was spilled during a blowout in Pennsylvania in April.
Thu, May 05, 2011 at 06:16 PM
NOTHING TO HIDE?: A spill in Pennsylvania angered many in the anti-fracking world. (Photo: M.V. Jantzen/flickr)
Two weeks after a blowout at a hydraulic fracturing site in Pennsylvania spilled chemicals into nearby waterways and farmlands, Chesapeake Energy Corp. has still refused to disclose exactly what chemicals were used at that frack site.
Greenwire's Mike Soraghan reported this week
that despite the fact that Chesapeake Energy led the charge for voluntary disclosure of fracking chemicals, the energy giant is waiting to disclose the contents of the specific chemicals spilled during the late April blowout. Chesapeake was a leading industry voice behind the creation of FracFocus.org
, a site designed to provide information about fracking and the toxic chemicals often used in the process. Fracking is an industrial process where a mixture of chemicals, sand and water are injected into the ground at extremely high pressures to reach natural gas reserves.
In his report, Soraghan quotes Mike Paque, the executive director of the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) saying, “You'd have to treat [the well] like one that was completed." But that isn’t how Chesapeake Energy sees it. According to reports, Chesapeake is resisting disclosing what was spilled in April on FracFocus.org because the frack job resulted in a spill, the process wasn’t completed. “Information is uploaded on the site when well completion reports are filed with the state," said Jim Gibson from Chesapeake. “Completion” is a gas industry term for when drilling is done and the process of extracting of the gas can begin.
While the information about the chemicals remains a mystery to those in Pennsylvania, in other states with more rigorous regulations, the information would be out. For instance, in Wyoming, which passed disclosure rules last fall, the contents of the Pennsylvania spill would be out for public review.
The Keystone State has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks for its regulatory process when it comes to fracking. During a public hearing last week in Harrisburg, hundreds of Pennsylvania landowners were frustrated by the state’s inability to accommodate the large numbers of concerned citizens
. Compounding their frustrations were not only the fracking spill in late April, but also a report by Clean Water Action
that several of the members of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission were the heads of companies that made donations to Corbett’s gubernatorial campaign in 2011.
As for FracFocus, the Chesapeake incident is being dubbed the first real test for the voluntary disclosure system. FracFocus is administered by GWPC along with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. The online registry is also partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
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