Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FrackFocus and Fig Leaves

The term Fig Leaf is used figuratively associated with the covering up of an act or an object that is embarrassing or distasteful with something of innocuous appearance. Sometimes paintings and statues had the genitals of their subjects covered by a representation of an actual fig leaf or similar object, either as part of the work or added afterwards for perceived modesty.

Today it’s more widely applied to include anything which may be embarrassing and the application of a fig leaf is supposed to make the offending item less offensive. 
FrackFocus has lately gotten the beating it deserves.  Today Bloomberg launched a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the fracking FrackFocus failures.
Fracking Hazards Obscured in Failure to Disclose Wells - By Benjamin Haas, Jim Polson, Phil Kuntz and Ben Elgin – Aug 13, 2012 11:01 PM CT
Apache’s transparency was shot through with cracks. In Texas and Oklahoma, the company reported chemicals it used on only about half its fracked wells via, a voluntary website that oil and gas companies helped design amid calls for mandatory disclosure.
Energy companies failed to list more than two out of every five fracked wells in eight U.S. states from April 11, 2011, when FracFocus began operating, through the end of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gaps reveal shortcomings in the voluntary approach to transparency on the site, which has received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.
FracFocus describes itself as:
 “FracFocus is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, two organizations whose missions both revolve around conservation and environmental protection.
The primary purpose of this site is to provide factual information concerning hydraulic fracturing and groundwater protection.  It is not intended to argue either for or against the use of hydraulic fracturing as a technology.  It is also not intended to provide a scientific analysis of risk associated with hydraulic fracturing. Finally, this site does not deal with issues unrelated to chemical use in hydraulic fracturing such as Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM).  This topic is beyond the current scope of this site.”
Participation in FracFocus is voluntary.   There are no regulations or legislation which require frackers to use the “chemical registry”.  Nor are there an assurances that the information is correct, complete and/or up to date.   
More fracking leaves are the Guiding Principles being promoted by the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC).   One piece of paper.  Geeee…. I feel so safe now.
The MSC has also published a document entitled RECOMMENDED PRACTICES FOR SITE PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT AND RESTORATION”.   It’s 34 pages long.  
Please note the preface: (emphasis added)
This document provides general guidance on recommended practices for the subject(s) addressed. It is offered as a reference aid and is designed to assist industry professionals in improving their effectiveness. It is not intended to establish or impose binding requirements. Nothing herein constitutes, is intended to constitute, or shall be deemed to constitute the setting or determination of legal standards of care in the performance of the subject activities. The foregoing disclaimers apply to this document notwithstanding any expressions or terms in the text that may conflict or appear to conflict with the foregoing.

The frackers need a bigger fig leaf.

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