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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Setting and achieving fracking chemical disclosure goals

Hot on the heels of yesterday's blog about Halliburton's acquisition of Baker Hughes and the uncertain future of the latter's exemplary full disclosure policy on fracking chemicals, a new article published in the Natural Resources Journal offers valuable guidance to officials charged with designing a disclosure regime.

Goal-Oriented Disclosure Design for Shale Oil and Gas Development was written by Kate Konschnik, Policy Director of Harvard Law School's Environmental Law Program. Kate is an authority on the subject of chemical disclosure and last year published a seminal study of the serious shortcomings of FracFocus as a regulatory compliance tool.

The article suggests that ineffective disclosure requirements "risk undermining public confidence in the disclosure process and waste an important opportunity to put these disclosures to work." Officials designing disclosure requirements should clearly define their "goals for disclosure, the information end users need to target in pursuit of each goal, and the feedback loops those end users can trigger." 

The article helpfully walks through the design process for a disclosure regime that "fully informs" first responders and medical professionals.

A Harvard news release sums up the suggested approach:

By thinking through when target audiences need information, how they use information, and where they get their information, disclosure law designers can draft disclosure laws that will hit their mark.
That mark has so far been badly missed by state and federal regulators. The article is a must-read. 

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