With almost any issue facing us today we hear the mantra of needing transparency. The government needs to be more transparent, regulatory agencies need to be more transparent, corporations need to be transparent and the general public rallies behind the mantra.
Political campaigns often carry a talking point or two about supporting and needing more transparency. Corporate advertisements and talking points will tout their transparency.
Specific to the natural gas industry it appears they are about as transparent as the drilling mud from an inadvertent return to the surface, (i.e. drilling mud spill or blowout).
In the A Motion for Contempt and for Sanctions in the Form of An Adverse Inference Docket No. 2011-149-R it was pointed out Range Resources ran to the front of the line to tout being first to embrace transparency with regards to the fracking chemical disclosure.
Range Resources Corp. says it plans to disclose the chemicals used to hydraulically fracture natural-gas wells in Pennsylvania, confronting rising pressure from environmental groups worried that drilling could contaminate drinking water.
The decision, which Range said was voluntary, reflects the mounting distrust that energy companies face, especially in the wake of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Even before the offshore spill, the industry was facing increasing scrutiny as gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale spreads across Pennsylvania and neighboring states.
In a significant break from past practice, Range says it will begin submitting a detailed list of all chemicals and additives, and the volumes, used to fracture each of its gas wells to the state.
Range Resources touts their transparency on their website:
A complete screen print of the Range Resources Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Selection and Management may be seen by clicking here. The screen print was taken on Saturday, September 21, 2013. For the Range Resources website link to this page, click here.
More recently, Matt Pitzarella, spokesperson for Range Resources responded to a letter to the Editor in the Observer-Reporter. Pitzarella touted Range Resources’s disclosure of the chemical make-up of fracking fluids:
A recent letter by Brian Rothermund, “Range oblivious to irony,” which appeared in the April 16 edition of the Observer-Reporter, repeated a false statement that the contents of fracturing fluid in oil and natural gas development are a secret. This is not the case. While all companies are required by regulation to disclose today, Range was actually the first company to voluntarily disclose fracturing fluids on a per well basis in the entire United States back in 2010. Not much was reported at the time locally, but The Wall Street Journal thought it was important enough to run the announcement on their front page.
The filed motion mentions in Range’s 2010 Annual 10-k report where Range represents to the shareholders it “voluntarily elected to provide…the hydraulic fracturing components for all wells operated by Range.”
It is evident Range Resources has and is maintaining they are all for transparency and disclosure since at least 2010.
HOW MUCH TRANSPARENCY AND DISCLOSURE?
As the filed motion shows, Range really doesn’t know what it is putting down the well bores. Range admitted it did not have an all-encompassing knowledge of the complete chemical make-up of each chemical product used at the Yeager site.
Big Question – if Range doesn’t know what is in the fracking cocktail, how can they claim transparency and how can they test for the unknown chemicals to determine if their operations contaminated a water supply? This is not CSI episode where a lab tech is able to pour a mixture into some sort of machine and have it identify all the chemicals.
There are specific tests to detect the presence or absence of a given chemical. You need to know what chemicals you are looking for in order to test for them.
Furthermore, Range Resources and all the drillers operating in the Marcellus Shale are required to disclose the components of the fracking fluid to the DEP. If the disclosure is inadequate and incomplete then how can the DEP make the determination that a given water supply has NOT been contaminated by a driller’s activity?
THE FRACK FAIRY’S MAGIC
Paragraph 35 of the motion highlights a Range Resources and the DEP’s lack of knowledge of what is in fracking fluid regarding a KNOWN chemical:
Acetone was detected. Range Resources denied it was utilized at the Yeager Site. Both Range and DEP dismissed the presence of Acetone, and yet a study conducted by the DEP and Gas Technology Institute concluded that ACETONE is regularly found in flowback water.
ACETONE is NOT a naturally occurring chemical. It is a produced substance, it is manufactured.
A Frack Fairy did not appear, wave her wand and **Abracadabra** there’s acetone in the water supply. It’s presence in the flowback water indicates it originated as part of the fracking cocktail.
What is being revealed in the motion has much bigger implications for the natural gas industry and its impact on our communities. It is more than just Range Resources because it raises the serious question of how many other natural gas drillers “Don’t Know Frack”, and by extension how many state environmental agencies also “Don’t Know Frack”.
For Pennsylvania and other states with a Medical Gag on fracking fluids, it becomes very scary because even is a physician were to contact a driller and comply with signing a non-disclosure form and ask what’s in the fracking fluid, the information the physician will receive is probably incorrect and incomplete. How do you treat a patient for chemical exposure when you don’t what chemical is causing the problems?
We are being told everyday by the Natural Gas Corporations it’s safe. We are being told by their trade groups it’s safe. We are being told by their front groups, their public relation campaigns, their lobbyists, our elected officials, by our state’s environmental agencies, by federal agencies, by professors and scientists each and every day that it is safe. Yet, none of these are willing or able to tell us exactly what is in the fracking cocktail.
- Don’t Know Frack Part 1
- A Motion for Contempt and for Sanctions in the Form of An Adverse Inference Docket No. 2011-149-R
- What’s in Your Water? Don’t ask the PA-DEP
- DEP FrackWatergate: Questions
- PA Department of Environmental Protection FrackWatergate
- Tap Dancing with DEP – FRACK Watergate
- FrackFocus and Fig Leaves
- FracFocus Out of Focus? Harvard Law Says YES!
© 2013 by Dory Hippauf