‘Halliburton Amendment’ Taints Fracking Regulations in WV

by Duane Nichols on April 28, 2013

Safety Datasheets Needed for Each Fracking Chemical


EDITORIAL: No trade secret to success

As a rule, whenever lobbyists talk about trade secrets, it’s no time to shut your eyes, close your ears or hold your tongue.

But we got the impression the WV Senate did when it approved the Department of Environmental Protection’s (WV-DEP) Horizontal Well Act rules.

Oh, the Senate was actually all eyes, ears and voice votes approving the WV-DEP’s gas well drilling regulations. But as we pointed out here in mid-March, it lost its senses when it inserted what’s come to be known as the “Halliburton amendment.”

And although the House Judiciary Committee was successful at making this amendment a bit less contaminated, it’s impossible to swallow.

What the amendment does is provide special protections to drilling operators that allow them to not disclose the identity or concentrations in their fracking fluids, at the recommendation of Halliburton. Or should we say, at its behest, or order. After all, campaign contributions might even be at stake in 2014.

We realize that some legislators did and continue to dispute this amendment. And we have no issue with the concept of proprietary information. However, this is no trade secret.
It’s simply an attempt by a corporation to not let anyone know what it is and how much of they are injecting into the earth beneath our feet.

Furthermore, most drilling operators already post their fracking fluid’s ingredients on the Internet and the maximum concentrations in them. This amendment does not even provide for the WV-DEP to have on file what ingredients and amounts are used in fracking fluids, except in an investigation or a medical emergency.

The House was able to amend the bill, however, these efforts qualify as tweaks at best.  For instance, the bill out of the Senate required doctors treating a patient for fluid exposure to verbally agree to confidentiality over the phone in an emergency, and to then sign off on a written agreement later.

The House’s tweak substituted that requirement with a provision that the well operator notify a doctor that this fluid is a trade secret, and disclosing it may subject the doctor to legal action.

We are encouraged to see the Legislature and the WV-DEP making progress on the agency’s 46 pages of rules it developed based on the 2011 Marcellus legislation. However, well operators should be required to list all frack fluid additives, the chemicals in them and their maximum concentrations. It’s essential the DEP and health care providers — at a minimum — have access to this data.

Anything short of such practical provisions will simply poison the well.

See also: www.FrackCheckWV.net

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