Wyoming Reacts to Proposed Fracking Ruleby Taylor Viydo, firstname.lastname@example.org
A proposed new hydraulic fracturing rule from the Obama administration is drawing the ire of lawmakers, industry professionals, and even environmental groups across Wyoming. The rule, announced Thursday by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, would require oil and gas companies drilling on public land to disclose the chemicals they use in the sometimes controversial drilling practice.
While Wyoming was complemented on its efforts to regulate fracking by the Department of the Interior, the proposal is fairly similar to rules already in place in the Cowboy State. While the draft proposal from the Bureau of Land Management would require the disclosure of fracking fluids, drilling companies could ask to be exempt from the rule by claiming that the chemicals they use are trade secrets. The BLM, however, would be able to ask for specifics on any chemicals that were seeking trade secret exemption.
Wyoming law requires disclosure of fracking chemicals to the state, but are classified as trade secrets and are not allowed to be made public. Wyoming was already one of the first states to require such rules.
Many are now calling the rules burdensome and unnecessary. "I think that this is an area better left to the states to provide leadership," said Governor Matt Mead. "We have a vested interest in it way beyond what Washington, DC does."
"I think Wyoming gets it right, Washington gets it wrong on fracking and so many other things," said Senator John Barrasso.
Mead says the proposal is especially threatening to one of the nation's biggest energy-producers. The federal government practically owns half of the state of Wyoming and two-thirds of its minerals. Because of that, Mead says the state could take an economic hit in the wake of the proposed fracking rule and its accompanying red tape. "I'm concerned about it delaying [drilling]," said Mead. "Already, delaying is such a big issue for energy companies. We're talking about a five, six , seven year delay where [companies] have millions of dollars sitting aside or invested that they can't put to use."
Some Wyoming environmental groups aren't thoroughly satisfied with the rule either. Chris Merrill of the Wyoming Outdoor Council says that the proposed BLM rule doesn't go far enough and lacks transparency. Merrill called the rule's trade secrets clause a "loophole."
Meanwhile, the Power River Basin Resource Council calls the BLM rule a step backwards, but still cites the trade secrets clause. "The problem is it's really industry deciding whether or not something is a trade secret," said spokeswoman Shannon Anderson of the proposal. "[Companies] would be able to voluntarily withhold that information from the government."
The BLM is currently accepting public comment on the proposed rule and will analyze those comments before issuing a final rule.