Montana has seen a dramatic increase in the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” during oil and gas drilling. Fracking is a technology that injects millions of gallons of water, hundreds of tons of chemicals, and sand at high-pressure underground in order to increase oil and gas production. Shockingly, many of the chemicals used during the process are toxic or carcinogenic, and have been shown to contaminate surface and ground water near drilling sites. That’s why late last month MEIC and a coalition of environmental organizations, landowners, and pubic health professionals filed a petition at the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (Board) requesting that it improve the public’s access to fracking chemical information. This is going to be an uphill battle, and we need your help.
Other states, including Wyoming, have enacted common sense safeguards that are designed to inform the public about the specific chemicals that are used for fracking adjacent to (or directly below) homes, businesses, and water supplies. While Montana enacted a chemical disclosure law in 2011, it falls short in two major ways. First, Montana does not require that operators disclose the specific chemicals they intend to use before they initiate fracking activities. Pre-fracking disclosure is critical in order for adjacent landowners to conduct baseline water quality testing so that they can monitor any change in their water quality and fully assess the risks to their health and property. Second, a loophole in Montana’s law allows operators to withhold any chemical information they deem to be trade secrets, without any oversight from the Board to ensure only legitimate trade secret information is kept confidential. These glaring deficiencies need to be changed, and we need your help.
MEIC’s petition before the Board would address these problems if the Board moves forward by initiating a rulemaking process. Specifically, the petition asks the Board to adopt rules that require operators to disclose the chemical ingredients of their fracking fluids before fracking occurs, and to close the trade secrets loophole by ensuring that only legitimate trade secrets are exempt from disclosure. Our neighboring state of Wyoming – a conservative, pro-resource development state if ever there was one – already provides these protections for its residents and there is no reason why Montanans should have to settle for less. Please join us in asking the Board for these common-sense reforms.