Groups appeal judge's fracking trade secrets ruling

2013-04-17T11:35:00Z 2013-04-17T16:31:07Z Groups appeal judge's fracking trade secrets rulingBy ADAM VOGE Star-Tribune energy reporter Casper Star-Tribune Online

A coalition of environmental and landowner groups has appealed a decision that individual ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing can be protected under Wyoming's trade secrets law.

The group, which includes the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the Wyoming Outdoor Council, appealed the decision to the Wyoming Supreme Court, according to a Wednesday statement.

"Groundwater belongs to the people of Wyoming," outdoor council attorney Bruce Pendery said in a prepared statement. "While water rights can be granted for its use, we all have an interest — and a responsibility — to ensure that groundwater is protected and kept clean not only for those of us living here today but for the people who might need it after we're gone."

Wyoming in 2010 became the first state to mandate disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are pumped into the ground to break the earth and free up trapped oil and natural gas.

But the law also included a provision allowing the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to shield certain ingredients from the public, if deemed "trade secrets."

The groups sued after the commission declined to release information about several hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- operations.

At a January hearing, the groups argued that publicly disclosing individual ingredients do not constitute revealing trade secrets. Intervening industry attorneys argued the opposite, saying reverse engineering and industry competition make proprietary information worth protecting.

A judge in March ruled in favor of the commission and the industry.

The environmental and landowner groups today appealed the decision to the state's Supreme Court. A date for arguments has not been set.

"Wyoming’s groundbreaking fracking chemical disclosure rule amounts to very little if companies can shield information as ‘trade secrets’ nearly at will," Earthjustice attorney Laura Beaton said in a prepared statement. "We are asking the Wyoming Supreme Court to enforce the broad public disclosure mandate of the Public Records Act and the fracking chemical disclosure rule."

Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(2) Comments

  1. Synergizerer
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    Synergizerer - April 22, 2013 2:40 am
    Don't like fracking? Here is an easy solution - sell you car/truck, don't buy anything made of rubber or plastic (including your shoes) and shut off your electricity. If enough of you people do that, they will stop fracking.
  2. 1whocares
    Report Abuse
    1whocares - April 17, 2013 3:36 pm
    Once again a slap in the face to the good folks of Wyoming and Americans abroad! What are the Big Oil groups/ Wyos gov afraid of "trade secrets" seriously that makes them exempt to the "Safe Drinking Water Act" BS. We deserve to know whats happening to our water supplies and lands now and for the respect to our future generations. The most famous case of fracking causing contaminated drinking water is in Sublette, Wyoming, where a drinking water study showed a benzene concentration 1,500 times what is safe for normal human consumption, and is believed to be a cause of aplastic anemia and leukemia. The risks posed by hydrofracking are dead serious. Those YouTube clips that show people lighting their drinking water on fire? They’re not isolated cases: Duke University recently proved that drinking water wells near hydrofracking sites have 17 times more methane than wells not located near fracking. Fracking operations have generated billions of gallons of radiation-laced toxic wastewater that we can’t manage properly and forced families to abandon their homes because of dangerous levels of arsenic, benzene and toluene in their blood. Fracking’s caused earthquakes in Ohio and Oklahoma, ozone in Wyoming that out-smogs L.A. and a 200 percent increase in childhood asthma in parts of Texas. A top federal scientist admits we just don’t know enough about all the different ways fracking can make us sick. I know were hungry for money but thats pure greed and deciet on the people,land and wildlife deserve to have a voice and stop the monstrosity! Never give up on Peace!!!
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