One of the main concerns about haydraulic fracturing (fracking) centers on the chemicals pumped underground to help break up the shale rock formations. What chemicals are used? Federal regulatory efforts to mandate disclosure and transparency have stalled and the EPA has limited powers to regulate the process thanks to exemptions in major federal laws for fracking.
Last year, the industry created FracFocus, a website where companies can voluntarily report wells they have fracked and chemicals they use. The site is paid for by America's Natural Gas Alliance and the American Petroleum Institute. It was created by Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council.
Last month, Bloomberg ran a story reporting on the results of their investigation into FracFocus. They found that participation is increasing rapidly, but at the time of their analysis, 45% of fracked wells were not reported on the site. Furthermore, even for frack jobs that are reported, companies often do not disclose chemicals when they believe it would threaten a trade secret.
This raises a question: Is FracFocus just a PR effort to placate enough people to prevent stricter, mandatory reporting requirements? Or, is it the best we can expect? Should those demanding greater transparency from the industry villify or applaud FracFocus?