Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth United States

Fracking Disclosure Rules Approved In CO 279

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the quench-your-thirst dept.
ExE122 writes "Colorado has approved new measures taking a tough stance on the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking. The new law is 'requiring companies to disclose the concentrations of chemicals in addition to the chemicals themselves.' Fracking is a controversial method of natural gas extraction that raises concerns about health and safety issues to surrounding communities. This measure is said to be tougher than similar measures passed in Texas earlier this year."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fracking Disclosure Rules Approved In CO

Comments Filter:
  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@harrelsonfa[ ]y.org ['mil' in gap]> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:18AM (#38370030) Homepage

    I live in Colorado (although not near any drilling sites), and I approve of this. Public safety > trade secrets.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

      by NatasRevol (731260) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:36AM (#38370250) Journal

      Too bad the chemicals aren't required to be listed if they're trade secrets.

      "The solution was a new form requiring a company to attest — under penalty of perjury — that a chemical is proprietary."
      http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_19542430#ixzz1gWXCPYOi [denverpost.com]

      • by fnj (64210)

        They are fucking dreaming if they think that this shit will hold. There is an imperative for the commons to be informed of the specifics of any proposed tampering with common resources like the water table, and a right to object.

        • I'm pretty sure you're the one dreaming.

          They aren't yet required to tell everyone what all the chemicals that they're pumping down through the water table are. Yet this is the strongest law about it on record.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by N7DR (536428) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:39AM (#38370274) Homepage

      Apparently the greatest concentration of fracking sites in the US (possibly the world) is in south-western Weld County in Colorado. Which is where I live. From my house I can see perhaps a dozen of these drilling sites. It's always seemed bizarre to me that it's even legal to push chemicals into the ground under and around my house -- but apparently it is, because around here very few people own the mineral rights associated with the ground on which their house stands.

      But then, it's also illegal for me to capture rainwater, which seems at least equally strange.

      • by jgtg32a (1173373)

        But then, it's also illegal for me to capture rainwater, which seems at least equally strange.

        Do you have any idea what the justification for this is? Not owning mineral rights to your land I can understand, but not being allowed to capture rainwater I do not.

        • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

          by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:02AM (#38370622)
          Because the water from precipitation is so low in Colorado and we're in a semi-arid climate, there's a lot of concern for the watershed and depriving the people downstream of water. Rainbarrels are technically illegal because that moisture is needed to maintain the natural flow of streams - damming, controlling, or restricting its natural flow can cause problems further down the line, or so it's proposed. But it's scarce enough on a climate level that even the rain is considered necessary.
          • Re:Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Derkec (463377) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @12:06PM (#38371582)

            Downstream is a key component. We get rain / melt-off that is used by farmers and cities in other states as well. Water in the west is a precious thing and "ownership" of it is order dependent. Someone owns the first drop of water flowing in the river, and someone else own X gallons / time period only if there's enough left over them after the senior stakeholders are accounted for. Those rights don't care if you are upstream or downstream, but on seniority.

            With the possibility of water intensive shale oil extraction, oil companies have been buying senior water rights in Colorado for some time and then leasing them back to farmers / etc. If shale oil happens seriously, and needs the water that's predicted, things could get ugly in a hurry.

        • by H3lldr0p (40304)

          Poor science and a century and a half of water rights wars with California.

          See this fine article [naturalnews.com].

      • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by flyingsquid (813711) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:29AM (#38370988)
        And this is why we need government, and why we need government regulation. In that bizarre fantasy world that the Libertarian true believers inhabit, we can let the free market take care of everything. The reality is that corporations will risk people's health, risk people's property, and risk people's lives in order to make a profit. We saw this with the Deepwater Horizon drill rig, where BP took shortcuts that killed workers, led to a disastrous oil spill, and shut down offshore oil exploration. We saw this in West Virginia, when a mine owner cut corners on safety, leading to an explosion that killed 29 people. We saw this with the paint industry, which continued to put toxic amounts of lead in paint long after this was known to be a major health risk. And we saw this with Wall Street, which gambled with billions of dollars of borrowed money, causing a financial panic that sent the economy into a recession.

        Government regulation can get out of hand. But if you just let corporations police themselves and expect the market to solve everything, then what you get is the situation in China: poison in baby formula, lead paint in children's toys, toxins in the toothpaste. Of course, if even a fraction of the health concerns raised about fracking are true, we may be closer to that situation than we'd like to think.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Bullshit. In a Libertarian world, I could sue the fuckers for polluting the water table. Now they have license thanks to government regulation and are shielded from liability.

          • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Pope (17780) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:55AM (#38371390)

            Bullshit. In a Libertarian world, I could sue the fuckers for polluting the water table. Now they have license thanks to government regulation and are shielded from liability.

            You wouldn't have the cash to keep a lawsuit going against any company with money to burn. At this point it's a chicken/egg problem.

          • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @12:01PM (#38371492)

            Bullshit. In a Libertarian world, I could sue the fuckers for polluting the water table. Now they have license thanks to government regulation and are shielded from liability.

            Wow....talk about backwards logic: The halliburton loophole was NOT a regulation, but an exemption from an existing regulation. The existing regulation was good, and the halliburton loophole did away with it in this case...never mind the notion that the ability to sue is somehow better than preventing the pollution in the first place(??).

          • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Adriax (746043) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @12:15PM (#38371746)

            And they could go to the court with 10000x the amount of lawyer time than you could afford.

            Do all libertarians actually believe there's a cosmically enforced good/evil balance, that the little guy actually can take down the big evil groups if not for the government holding them back, and that certain metals have a universally recognized value? Or is it just the ones I've encountered?

            • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

              by mdarksbane (587589) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @12:26PM (#38371938)

              And the law is so complex that having 1000x the lawyering is an advantage, because...?

              Look, if we're going to assume a libertopia hypothetical, assume it all the way.

              Actually, the more educated libertarians (not the internet nut/strawmen type) do have better (or at least more developed) solutions to this problem then "take them to court in this system that is completely rigged in favor of the big companies." Mostly involving more highly developed property rights and protections. But it's a bit long to go into in slashdot comment.

              It's fairly frustrating. Most of my political conversations, if I want to defend my point at all, risk turning into a lengthy lecture on libertarian theory. Because there *is* more to it than just "government bad", but if you haven't read the economic arguments it doesn't really work...

        • by rev0lt (1950662)
          So, all the things you described happened without a government regulating stuff? And wouln't it be better if you could just, say shoot them in the head, when something like this threatens you, your safety or your family safety?
          The billions gambled in Wall Street were backed by the government. In fact, the government you praise bail them out. How many arrests were made in the recent Wall Street scandals? The examples you mentioned from China were handled swiftly and severely - those responsible for milk co
          • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Tsingi (870990) <<graham.rick> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @12:28PM (#38371978)

            The billions gambled in Wall Street were backed by the government. In fact, the government you praise bail them out. How many arrests were made in the recent Wall Street scandals?

            The government deregulated Wall Street, this is the problem. I don't think anyone is praising the way any of that was (is being) handled. None of that is going to change as long as Corporations can donate unlimited money anonymously to political campaigns.

    • They're just shoving anything that will go down the pipe as some form of fluid to build pressure.

      Thinking that there's even some magic recipe for forcing cracks in shale is the height is idiocy.

      They oil & gas companies are just shoving in their waste products under high pressure and, low and behold, the shale can't take the pressure.

      That happens to release some natural gas some times, if they drilled close enough to some gas pockets.

      I'm glad I live on granite.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        >> I'm glad I live on granite.

        Enjoy your radon.

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Well - a few chemicals might be for dissolving weaker stone. Water does a pretty good job of that, though.

    • by jdgeorge (18767)

      Aren't fracking companies still exempt from this kind of disclosure under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 [wikipedia.org]? In other words, isn't any disclosure by the fracking companies purely voluntary, since the state legislation is rendered moot by the federal legislation?

      I know there are several states passing legislation like Colorado's, but if I understand correctly, the legislation seems to be basically for show, since the states are really powerless to enforce disclosure of their flacking fluids.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Spectre (1685)

        They're exempt from the normal federal reporting requirements such as those stipulated in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. They are not exempted from state regulations, which is why states are drafting legislation of this type. Typically any entity (person or corporation) has to comply with the regulations of all jurisdictions that apply (city, county, state, and federal for the US).

        Now, the company might be able to argue the production of the natural gas is "interstate commerce" and therefore the fe

  • by skids (119237) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:18AM (#38370034) Homepage

    Well, it's one thing to have your customers voluntarily ingest a "secret sauce" product, and another one entirely to force everyone nearby to. So chalk it up to shades of gray. Though with the general level of rampant stupidity among the consuming public, one could build a case that volunteerism shouldn't exempt the formar case, either.

    • If you look on the back of any food product package sold in the US, you'll find a list of ingredients. However, this list doesn't tell you the ratio and method of how they were combined.

    • Re:Secret Sauce (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:44AM (#38370374) Journal
      Frankly, imposing almost-certainly-negative externalities on unconsenting bystanders' persons and property during the course of your business makes you the ethical equivalent of a serial mugger. It is a pity that it doesn't make you the legal equivalent of one.

      That's what I've never understood about the notion that these sorts of environmental regulations are 'anti-freedom' or 'anti-free-market'... Effectively, emitting pollutants that leave your property(as they almost always have a nasty tendency to do...) is some combination of assault and destruction of property, depending on exactly how much damage to other people's health and damage to other people's property you cause. That would seem to bring you trivially under the police power of the state to protect its citizens from violence against them by others.

      Failure to protect the people from pollution involuntarily forced on them seems different only in degree from failing to prosecute poisoners or fly-tippers. Also arguably, environmental regulations that allow some harmful levels of pollution are actually more statist; because they assert the state's right to submit everyone to damage to the benefit of specific parties(almost exactly the same thing as the almost universally reviled Kelo v. City of New London decision: The state asserting its right to involuntarily transfer part of the property of everybody to the polluter for 'economic development' purposes). The only real areas of economic regulation that would seem to be purely 'environmentalist' in motivation, as opposed to a downright libertarian exercise of the state's right and duty to protect its citizens from violence, force, and fraud, would be those that govern pollution affecting only the polluter and those who have given informed consent to the pollution(employees accepting high risk for higher pay, say, with knowledge of that risk) and those that protect species and wetlands and things in themselves even when they are fully encompassed within a single chunk of property.

      Politically, it isn't exactly a surprise that "libertarian" and "environmentalist" usually don't get along all that well; but ideologically, I've always been fascinated by how immediate, direct, property crimes for profit have no friends at all, and we can't seem to hang the perps high enough for anybody's satisfaction; but covert, indirect, property crimes for profit are eminently respectable, and have friends in all the most desirable places... (As for the case of the 'secret sauce' product, it seems like it would depend on exactly why the sauce is secret: if, as is common at the experimental edges of medicine, nobody knows exactly what the sauce will do, it would seem to be the right of a competent adult to take risk upon themselves. If the sauce is secret because I'm just not telling you what it is, it becomes much harder to argue that we have actually achieved a genuine consent in the contractual sense, since I'm deliberately keeping you in a state shy of 'informed consent' for my own convenience.)
      • Frankly, imposing almost-certainly-negative externalities on unconsenting bystanders' persons and property during the course of your business makes you the ethical equivalent of a serial mugger. It is a pity that it doesn't make you the legal equivalent of one.

        Too many people (and thus the companies they own) are all too happy to let other people suffer or die if it helps them make a buck.

        They used to offshore the death and misery so we wouldn't have to see it, but we don't matter anymore either.

        • Which is why I had have a special legalized exemption system that amounted to "Sure, you can pump this awful chemical into the air/water/ground but if we trace so much as one person's death to your conduct, we take your entire board and senior management out back of the court house and beat them to death with bricks."

  • Fracking, natural gas, and health risks. Slashdot don't let me down.
  • Progress! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:25AM (#38370096) Journal

    "In 2011 Colorado passed a law forcing drilling companies to disclose what just what the hell they were pumping into the ground in massive quantities."

    Progress!

  • For a nice audio visual aid to fracking:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=timfvNgr_Q4 [youtube.com]

    To see what it can do to your water supply:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U01EK76Sy4A&feature=player_detailpage [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a long time, the food industry has had to label their products indicating what exactly they contained. Trade secrets must take second place to public safety.

    Why is this not obvious to our legislators?

  • by minstrelmike (1602771) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:54AM (#38370506)
    Just because it isn't new doesn't mean it can't be dangerous. sheesh.
    Vehicles didn't cause air pollution in Los Angeles until there were a million of them.
    Infecting the Ogallala reservoir with 10ccs of anything except plutonium isn't going to poison that many people. But dumping in ten million gallos of almost anything will affect the water.
    It isn't the use of any resource that causes issues; it is only the overuse (by definition).
    • by gtall (79522) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:41AM (#38371144)

      Just to be fair, the ground water we use for drinking is generally at a might higher elevation than the level at which fracking occurs. However, any fissures in the rock between the two will cause contamination. And that is something the frackers can never protect against since they have no idea where those fissures occur.

      • However, any fissures in the rock between the two will cause contamination. And that is something the frackers can never protect against since they have no idea where those fissures occur.

        What keeps crude oil from causing contamination through those same fissures?

        ~Loyal

         

  • Hopefully, this will also push for substitutions using less-toxic fracking fluid components, even if some of these components may be higher cost.

    For instance (pulling hypothetical example out of my butt, no personal expertise in fracking fluid chemistry) a mineral-oil based carrier vs. a diesel-fuel carrier. I mean, the mechanical properties of the fracking fluid seem like the most important, right? So there should be some fungibility regarding exact chemistry used.

    • For instance (pulling hypothetical example out of my butt, no personal expertise in fracking fluid chemistry) a mineral-oil based carrier vs. a diesel-fuel carrier. I mean, the mechanical properties of the fracking fluid seem like the most important, right?

      The main component by volume of fraccing fluid is water.

      ~Loyal

  • A step in the right direction but not adequate. I we had adequate laws in place already, BP's Gulf disaster, and others like it*, would be far less frequent and less disastrous. In short, this ain't enough to keep your groundwater from igniting. It's just going to cost corporations a little more money to keep doing what they're already doing. The only real answer here is to cull the demand if what your after is environmental conservation. Expect egregious and negligent violations whenever money and energy a

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:39AM (#38371108)

    My sister owns a water quality lab in Montana. Every town is required to test their water supply regularly for biological and chemical contaminants and for years they have submitted their samples via regular mail to labs like my sister's for testing. Except that the EPA has shortened the window for getting your samples in to a lab from 48 hours to 30 hours, which the Post Office cannot manage with current levels of service. UPS and FedEx don't serve many rural areas, so there is no way for many towns to test their water any more. Add in large, imminent cutbacks at the USPS, and you have a looming public health crisis as it is.

    Now with the advent of fracking in the state there is a real possibility thousands of people will be poisoned by ground water contamination, but thanks to the breakdown in the testing it won't be discovered until it's far too late.

    Winning more natural gas is a plus for energy independence, but if we're doing that at the cost of putting benzene into our drinking water then perhaps we need to look at other ways to generate power.

    • by Derkec (463377)

      Sounds like there is a market for a mobile testing lab (and the equipment that could fit in a large truck with a generator).

  • Not like this practice is new. But the number has tripled in recent years.
  • If natural gas replaces a significant amount of electricity generation and vehicle power (electric or compressed gas), the US carbon growth could slow down considerably. NG combustion emits about half the CO2 of petroleum or coal per BTU. The difference here is this is motivation by corporate profit rather than government subsidy.

    One caveat is that methane is a significant greenhouse gas - 20x stronger by quantity than CO2. So any significant leakage in the system would negate its environmental advanta
  • by bradorsomething (527297) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:03PM (#38372530)
    A little science from a former Petroleum Engineer:

    Fracking occur in 2 stages. In the First Stage, a series of pumping trucks are lined up and push a goopy gel into the ground, who's whole purpose is to carry grains of sand deep into the fractures created by the overpressure. The exact composition of this snot-like mixture is considered a trade secret, because of its ability to perform in stage two.

    In the Second Stage, a "breaker fluid" is pumped into the well, which is supposed to instantly liquify the goop and allow it to flow out, leaving the sand grains to prop open the cracks. Opinions vary on how well this process works; I worked on the oil company side, so I can tell you, it doesn't always work. Sometimes your well is gummed up with snot, especially if they don't pump the breaker long enough.

    Both the propellant and the breaker are trade secret compositions, but both probably have some interesting chemical comps.

    The irony here is that an old friend of mine said that after a frack job ruined a very lucrative well, he started insisting that water and sand be the only fluids used in his frack jobs. He said the pumping companies pitched a fit, but he got some of the best, most improved fractures of his career using sand and water.

* * * * * THIS TERMINAL IS IN USE * * * * *

Working...