NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A new study says Texas oil and natural gas companies are claiming trade-secret exemptions to keep from revealing the chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing or "fracking".
Fracking is a drilling process that blasts millions of gallons of water and other things, for each well, deep into the earth to fracture dense shale and allow natural gas to escape.
Last year Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, co-authored the law requiring drillers to make public what they pump into the ground for fracking, but companies don't have to provide specifics if the companies consider the chemicals used to be a trade secret.
"The fracking bill that the Texas Legislature passed last session was a very important step in the right direction, but the bill is fundamentally flawed," Burnam said. "All we could get is this limited disclosure requirement and there is a big loophole in it big enough to drive a Mack Truck through."
The study done by the Pivot Upstream Group out of Houston found that Texas drillers invoked the 'trade secret' privilege more than 19,000 times this year alone.
"Once the state kind of allows that [trade-secret exception] without any oversight, companies tend to do it a little bit more frequently," said Joe McCord, with the Pivot Upstream Group.
The fracking process is widely used across North Texas, in the Barnett Shale and other natural gas formations.
According to Cyrus Reed, acting director of the Lone Star Sierra Club, when oil and gas companies argued for exclusion they claimed it would mainly be used in cases of scientific or technological advances. Reed said the companies were, "…claiming that it [trade secret exemption] wouldn't be used that much, ya know just occasionally when there was a new chemical or product."
Last year a report by the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project, part of the Washington-based group Earthworks, accused the of not protecting its residents from possible dangers of gas drilling.
Burnam said it's obvious what the oil and gas companies want to hide. "What they really don't want is for people to know how toxic this stuff [fracking mixture] is."
Considering the 19,000 trade-secret claims made in Texas through August, companies withheld information on more than five ingredients used in the fracking process for every well in the state.
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