The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is scheduled to consider a set of new rules on the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) early next month, but the debate is already picking up steam regarding proposed exemptions for trade secret chemicals.
Residents in communities encompassing shale plays and others are skeptical of the trade secret provisions, while COGCC officials counter that such exemptions are part of similar fracking chemical disclosure rules in a number of other states (see Shale Daily, Sept. 8).
COGCC pointed out that many oil and gas operators in the state already are providing some information on the chemicals they use through the FracFocus.org, which is the fracking chemical registry website created by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
Nevertheless, the state agency tasked with overseeing drilling throughout Colorado acknowledges that concerns regarding fracking among the general public are the "major reason" for the state to try to adopt new rules and amendments on the disclosure of chemicals. A public hearing on the draft rules is set for Dec. 5 in Denver. The proposed rules would apply to fracking operations beginning on or after Feb. 1.
Public debate is expected to continue on the proposed trade secret protections that could limit full public disclosure but would still require that COGCC be informed.
"If a chemical is entitled to trade secret protection, then the operator must still provide information on its chemical family and purpose," the COGCC draft rules state. "The supplier, service company or operator, as applicable, must also provide the identity of a trade secret chemical to a health professional that satisfies certain conditions [immediate disclosure is required in medical emergencies]."
Before claiming that a chemical or concentration is a trade secret, the vendor, service provider or operator must file with the COGCC a registration form providing names, addresses and phone numbers of pertinent representatives at the company. "This is intended to assist the COGCC and health professionals in promptly obtaining trade secret information where appropriate," COGCC said.