NRDC Asks for Public Access to Fracking Chemical Information

During the fracking process, millions of gallons of water, chemicals, and sand are injected underground at high-pressure to increase oil and gas production. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals used in fracking are toxic or carcinogenic. Studies have shown that fracking can contaminate drinking water supplies and harm the health of people living nearby. That’s why this summer NRDC, Earthjustice, MEIC, landowners, and public health professionals filed a petition asking the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation to improve the public’s access to fracking chemical information.

Other states, including Wyoming, have enacted common-sense safeguards that are designed to inform the public about the specific chemicals that are used for fracking near homes, businesses, and water supplies. While Montana enacted a chemical disclosure law in 2011, it falls short in two major ways. First, Montana does not require that operators disclose the specific chemicals they intend to use before they initiate fracking activities. Pre-fracking disclosure is critical in order for area landowners to conduct baseline water quality testing so that they can monitor any change in their water quality and fully assess the risks to their health and property. Second, a loophole in Montana’s law allows operators to withhold any chemical information they deem to be trade secrets without any oversight to ensure that only legitimate trade secret information is kept confidential.

Our petition asks the Board to adopt rules that require operators to disclose the chemical ingredients of their fracking fluids before fracking occurs. It also asks for the Board to close the trade secrets loophole and ensure that only legitimate trade secrets are exempt from disclosure.

Wyoming already provides these protections for its residents, and there is no reason why Montanans should have to settle for less.

Please take a few minutes to send an email to the Board at [email protected] in support of stronger fracking chemical disclosure regulations in Montana. Here are some points to consider making in your email:

  • The chemicals used in fracking operations are often toxic and carcinogenic, and it is only fair that landowners living near fracking activities have access to this information in order to protect their families and property.
  • The Board must adopt rules that require operators to disclose the chemical ingredients of their fracking fluids before fracking occurs.
  • The Board should close the trade secrets loophole and ensure that only legitimate trade secrets are exempt from public disclosure.
  • Our neighboring state of Wyoming already provides these protections for its residents, and there is no reason why Montanans should have to settle for less.
  • A more stringent disclosure process is essential to ensure that the regulations comply with the protections afforded all Montanans under the “right to know” provision of the Montana Constitution.
  • Clean water is a critical resource across Montana, and the implementation of these proposed regulatory changes is an important step forward in protecting our water resources. 

About the Authors

Amanda Jahshan

Wildlife Energy Conservation Fellow, Lands & Wildlife program

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