Montana Regulators Eye New Rules on ‘Fracking’

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – Montana regulators are proposing a rule to require oil and gas companies to disclose what chemicals are being pumped into the ground as a way to extract natural gas and oil in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

But the proposed rule is already under attack because of an exception that allows companies to withhold information if it reveals trade secrets. Environmentalists contend that fracking contaminates the soil and ground and surface waters

Tom Richmond, administrator for the Montana Board of Oil and Gas, said the board wants companies to post the chemicals with the board or on a national website.

He said the rules were prompted by national interest in fracking and by a bill sponsored by Bozeman Sen. Bob Hawks that would force disclosure.

“We were certainly aware that it was an issue,” Richmond told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “The (Hawks) legislation kind of gelled it as an issue in Montana and that’s why we thought we should start drafting some stuff and give it a good hard look.”

Dave Galt of the Montana Petroleum Association says the rule is fair to the industry.

“A lot of these things are trademarked formulas that people have spent a lot of money and intellectual property to develop,” he said. “To just disclose that, to have it hanging out there, is a problem.”

The Northern Plains Resource Council said the exception to the rule would leave Montanans still not knowing what chemicals were being injected into the ground.

Melville area rancher Paul Hawks, Sen. Bob Hawks’ brother, also said the proposed rule fell short.

“As a rancher who has leased the minerals, I expect to know what chemicals are being pumped into the ground so that I can protect my water resources from possible contamination,” said Paul Hawks.

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