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Battle expected over disclosure of 'fracking' chemicals

December 19, 2012 | 11:52 am

Under pressure from state lawmakers and environmentalists, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration released draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the controversial drilling process driving the nation's oil and gas boom.

As The Times reported Wednesday, the proposed rules would require energy companies to disclose for the first time the chemicals they inject deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil. The companies also would have to reveal the locations of the wells where they use the procedure.

Environmental groups and the energy industry called the draft regulations a good start but signaled that they would do battle in the coming months over the level of disclosure. The proposed rules contain a trade-secret provision that would allow oil companies not to disclose chemicals that they claim are proprietary.

Environmentalists and public health advocates in California have raised safety questions about the hundreds of chemicals used -- many of them known carcinogens -- and fear the trade-secret provision could undermine the intent of the regulations: transparency.

Energy firms and oil field service companies have said the trade-secret clause is necessary to protect their proprietary "recipes."

State regulators are planning three workshops to take public comment on the proposed rules. The documents released Tuesday were labeled "discussion drafts," meaning they do not trigger a formal rule-making process.


California Senate rejects 'fracking' legislation

State officials ask energy firms to disclose 'fracking' sites

Environmentalists sue California oil regulators over fracking

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento


Photo: The Inglewood Oil Field in L.A.'s Baldwin Hills. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times