Why are we not surprised by this news story?
The online database that Colorado employs for disclosing the ingredients in fracking fluids used in drilling oil and gas wells is seriously flawed, according to a Harvard Law School study.
The analysis, done by the school's environmental policy initiative, found reporting errors and gaps in the independent database FracFocus.
The online database was developed by the Ground Water Protection Council, an association of state water agencies, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
"FracFocus was a serious voluntary reporting effort," said Kate Konschnik, policy director of the Harvard Environmental Law Program. "As a regulatory mechanism, the states haven't thought out its use."
In reviewing Texas filings, the researchers found that almost a third of the chemicals listed didn't exist.
If you're interested, the full report by Harvard Law School is available here. The report concludes that, "[i]n its current form, FracFocus is not an acceptable regulatory compliance method for chemical disclosures." There are three main reasons for this: 1) due to FracFocus' shortcomings, "states cannot enforce timely disclosure requirements;" 2) "FracFocus creates obstacles to compliance for reporting companies;" and 3) given that "operators have sole discretion to determine when to assert trade secrets...inconsistent trade secret assertions are made throughout the registry." Needless to say, these severe shortcomings make us highly skeptical that FracFocus is doing what it's supposed to be doing - protecting the public from harm.