An influential national voice on the subject of shale oil and gas development says that the oil and gas industry is hurting itself by withholding information about the chemicals used in the process.
John Deutch, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who led the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), says that allowing some ingredients to be withheld from public disclosure as "trade secrets" erodes public confidence. He said, "The industry, by saying, 'We're going to hold something back,' is paying a cost."
Deutch has been selected to head a SEAB task force on FracFocus, the privately-run fracturing chemical disclosure site that a number of states use and that the Obama administration has proposed using for disclosure of fracturing chemicals on federal land. The site allows some ingredients to be withheld as "trade secrets."
Deutch is not alone in citing FracFocus’ shortcomings and its failure as a compliance tool. Voluntary reporting and self-policing don't work, and serve only to further erode public confidence about unconventional oil and gas exploration. Opacity does the industry no good.
There is no substitute for government regulation and laws requiring full disclosure and full transparency about the industry's chemical use.