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Companies aren’t reporting their fracking operations

According to a Bloomberg report, energy companies aren’t complying with a self-reporting system for fracking.

Amid calls for government regulations mandating disclosure of fracking operations, oil and gas companies established a Website called on which they pledged to voluntarily list the wells where fracking would take place. The site received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

But Bloomberg compiled data revealing that 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.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, occurs when energy companies inject chemically treated water underground to break up rock formations and release natural gas. It’s controversial because the water contains toxic chemicals such as the carcinogen benzene, and environmentalists worry that it will contaminate drinking water.

One fracking location is the Marcellus Shale, which is a rock formation that extends into parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.

Bloomberg reportedly compared oil and gas well records from eight states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — against data companies posted on FracFocus. Though state data didn’t reveal whether wells were fracked, regulators in each state said it occurred at a minimum of 85 percent of their wells. The Congressional Research Service puts that estimate at more than 90 percent nationwide.

In those eight states, the energy companies told regulators that 18,158 wells were readied for production or were newly producing from April 11, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2011. But they listed only 8,555 of them on FracFocus. If 85 percent of the total wells were fracked, that means 45 percent of them weren’t disclosed on the Website.

U.S. Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado, along with Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, introduced legislation in March 2011 that would require companies to disclose fracking chemicals. The bills have gone nowhere in both the House and Senate.

The Bloomberg report quotes DeGette as saying: “FracFocus is just a fig leaf for the industry to be able to say they’re doing something in terms of disclosure.”

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.