North Carolina Senate today approved a law that makes it a criminal offence to reveal the chemicals used in fracking just at a time when major energy firms plans to disclose the information in order to manage public anger against the practice.
Fracking, or technically hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial method of extracting shale oil and gas that involves pumping a mixture of chemicals, water and sand deep at high pressure into the shale formations in order to release the trapped fossil fuels. Environmentalists have always argued against the method, saying it pollutes groundwater supplies and air quality.
“Understanding what chemicals are being used allows testing to see if these chemicals are actually entering drinking water sources,” Danielle Fugere, the head of environmental group As You Sow, told Reuters.
The law, which was sponsored by three Republican senators, was approved 35-12. The main motive behind the legislation is to guard trade secrets on fracking fluids and attract energy firms to invest in North Carolina’s nascent oil and gas sector. The Energy Modernization Act, which will now head to the House of Representatives, turns the state geologist into the custodian of the information on fracking fluids. However, such information will be shared with fire chief, public safety officials or healthcare providers in case of an emergency.
The bill also requires the state geologist to reveal the use of any outlawed fracking chemicals to North Carolina’s Mining and Energy Commission.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently collecting public views on whether it should create laws that require manufacturers to reveal more information about fracking chemicals. So far, only oilfield services firm Baker Hughes Inc has announced plans to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, with its main rivals Schlumberger and Halliburton expected to follow suit. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.
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