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Fracking ruling sides with states, energy producers

Fracking ruling sides with states, energy producers

Mar 26, 2013 - By Mead Gruver, The Associated Press

In 2010, Wyoming became one of the first states to require companies to disclose ingredients in hydraulic fracturing chemicals to state regulators but not to the public.

A judge in Casper has sided with the state of Wyoming and ruled against environmentalists who sought to obtain lists of the ingredients that go into hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Environmental groups had requested the ingredient lists from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, arguing that the public needs to know what chemicals companies are putting underground.

They were denied on the grounds that the lists are trade secrets that may be withheld under Wyoming's open records law. Natrona County District Judge Catherine Wilking has upheld the denial, ruling that the state official who withheld the information acted reasonably.

The oil and gas commission oversees oil and gas drilling in Wyoming. The commission chairman, Gov. Matt Mead, praised the ruling.

"This decision recognizes the importance of a state-based approach to regulating hydraulic fracturing -- one that balances this important method for producing energy with environmental protection," he said Monday through spokesman Renny MacKay.

The lawsuit was filed against the commission by the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks and OMB Watch. Oilfield services company Halliburton intervened on the state's side.

"We continue to believe we have strong claims, and we're still concerned the Wyoming oil and gas commission is withholding this information from the public," said Shannon Anderson, an attorney for the resource council.

An appeal was an option, she said.

Specially formulated lubricants are used in fracking, which involves pumping water, fine sand and fracking fluids underground to split open oil- and gas-bearing rocks.

One purpose of fracking fluids is to help the sand flow into newly formed fissures and keep them propped open.

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