Houston Matters

Do We Need to Know What’s in Fracking Fluid?

In 2011, Texas lawmakers passed a hydraulic fracturing disclosure law touted as a demonstration of transparency, but which gives oil and gas companies wide latitude to withhold the chemical makeup of the frack water they use if they deem it proprietary information. This makes efforts to establish just what goes into that fracking fluid a […]

Fracking drilling rig in DeWitt County. - Dave Fehling

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In 2011, Texas lawmakers passed a hydraulic fracturing disclosure law touted as a demonstration of transparency, but which gives oil and gas companies wide latitude to withhold the chemical makeup of the frack water they use if they deem it proprietary information.

This makes efforts to establish just what goes into that fracking fluid a real challenge — and a concern when companies fail to properly control where that fluid goes.

Case in point: research from biochemists with UT Arlington over the last five years has found high levels of chlorinated solvents and compounds commonly found in oil projects in water wells near the Barnett Shale.

We talk with one of those researchers, Zac Hildenbrand. He’s the founder of Inform Environmental and a contributing scientist with CLEAR (Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation) at UT Arlington. We also talk with Steve Everley, a senior advisor for Energy In Depth, a website* launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (an organization of oil and gas companies).

*As listener comments below indicate, Energy In Depth was originally described in this post as a “research body,” even though during our on-air discussion, we characterized it as a “website launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.” We have changed the description in this post to reflect how we described it on air.

(Above: A fracking drilling rig in DeWitt County. Photo: Dave Fehling, Houston Public Media)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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