The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission’s Environmental Standards Committee has begun debating a draft rule on when and how to require disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (“ fracking”). The first draft of the rule proposed after the fact disclosure of the chemical additives used in fracking — within 60 days after a well has been fracked or within 120 days after fracking began (whichever comes first). Disclosure would be made to the Mining and Energy Commission and to the public at the same time. Information would be made available to the public through the FracFocus website maintained by the Groundwater Protection Council and the American Petroleum Institute.
The draft rule would allow a well operator to withhold information on a fracking chemical designated as a trade secret from both the public and the Commission. The Commission could request information on a fracking chemical designated as a trade secret only after a spill or a complaint of harm. The committee will take up a new draft in March. That draft will reflect some recommendations from a stakeholder group, but none of the stakeholder recommendations to be included would change the timing of disclosure or the treatment of trade secrets. The January committee discussion suggested that some committee members continue to have concerns about those sections of the draft rule, however, and there is likely to be more debate. More on “trade secrets” to come.