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America Tower Houston

The America Tower of the American General Center, the headquarters of Baker Hughes
(WhisperToMe/Wikipedia)

The drilling company Baker Hughes will be implementing a fracking chemical disclosure policy where it will make public all of the chemicals that are used in fracking operations. Local communities and environmental groups have asked companies for years to disclose all chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking. As a response to these groups, the gas and oil industry has created an online database that has a list of many fracking chemicals.

However, this database does not contain important information on particular chemicals as well as the amounts used to protect trade secrets. Now, Baker Hughes has decided that it will no longer withhold any chemical fracking information – a policy that was announced earlier in 2014. This announcement was made the same week that a report was released by ExxonMobil which talks about the risks that fracking could have on its shareholders. Some people believe that this report needs to go further, including the president of As You Sow, Danielle Fugere.

The Decision for Full Fracking Chemical Disclosure

Baker Hughes is one of the biggest drilling companies in the world and it will provide information about the makeup of chemicals used for fracking without divulging any trade secrets. In a statement, the drilling company says it hopes that this disclosure will help improve the public’s trust in the process of fracking.

More specifically, the statement released by Baker Hughes states that the goals of increasing the transparency about the chemicals that are used in the fracking process and protecting the company’s ability to forge innovations do not conflict. Chief strategy officer Derek Mathieson goes on to say that the full disclosure policy is consistent with their beliefs in solving important problems faced in the industry and that the company has a responsibility to the public. Finally, Mathieson says that this policy allows Baker Hughes to protect proprietary information so they can continue to grow.

Sharp-Hughes_Tool_Company,_1915

Hughes Tool Company’s oil drill manufacturing plant in downtown Houston, 1915.

Critics Opinions of Fracking Chemical Disclosure

Critics of fracking state that if companies disclose the chemicals that are used in fracking it will aid in the protection of citizens that live near these operations. Critics say it is important for the public to know what toxic substances could be in the water so they can be tested for. There have not been a lot of studies in regards to the effects that the fracking water mixture has on humans but a single study indicated that exposure to the wastewater caused cattle death and cattle stillbirths.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering creating rules that require every gas and oil company to fully disclose the chemicals they use. However, these rules will probably not be binding and will likely have exemptions in order to protect trade secrets. The debate on fracking will likely continue but this disclosure will help ease the citizens’ concerns and satisfy some of the demands of environmental groups.

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