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Fracking Disclosure


Marjorie Childress reports on a New Mexico lawmaker opposing right-to-know legislation on fracking:

“It’s gonna fuel litigation, radical fringe groups, who don’t understand the process of what we do and how we do it,” Rep. Don Bratton, R-Lea County, said about HB 136, a bill that would require companies to publicly disclose hydraulic fracking chemicals, a procedure that uses high pressure to inject a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into rock and shale formations deep underground to release natural gas.

Bratton objected to the bill, saying that requiring companies to disclose fracking chemicals—which he said were components “we use in our everyday lives”–was like requiring grocery stores to disclose all the ingredients in products they sell, like toothpaste. He also said there was no evidence that fracking chemicals pollute water deep underground.

Hmmm….Can you imaging the horror of asking a company to put the ingredients of what makes up their products on packaging? I mean, it would be just like the United States in 2013! Of course reproducing the good old days of patent medicines and rat poison in our sausage is an actual goal of the modern Republican Party.

As a supporter of the bill said:

“If it’s true that they’re all benign, ..why on earth is there such a huge fight about what’s in it? If it really is just soap, water, sand, common lubricants…why is an extraordinarily modest bill similar to bills in other states, why is there an onslaught of opposition?” Egolf asked

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  • Njorl

    Fracking could be done with simple, benign chemicals, but where’s the fun in that?

  • arguingwithsignposts

    “It’s gonna fuel litigation, radical fringe groups, who don’t understand the process of what we do and how we do it,”

    Does this dude work for a fracking company, or is political grift just that brazen these days?

    • I clocked in to ask the same question. Who is “we”?

    • Yes, he is a state legislator and an gas executive.

      • arguingwithsignposts

        best representation money can buy. I used to know a state lege in Texas who also worked as a vp for the largest concrete concern in the state. Good ole boy wasn’t bright enough to get there just based on his smarts. Funny coincidence, that. And yes, he went by “Bubba.”

      • Njorl

        You see, just like the founding fathers, he’s not a politician.

      • herr doktor bimler

        Rep. Don Bratton (Corp.)

      • efgoldman

        Waaayyy back, when I was taking the required American history survey course in high school (early 60s) the teacher said that one difference between our legislatures and the British parliament was that ours represented people, and the Brits actually had MPs who represented companies and businesses. “The Honorable Member from British Cole” and like that.
        Gad, we were naive! But that’s alright, because the GOBP made us world-class cynics in short order.

        • efgoldman

          Should be “British Coal” of course. Edit button, what is that?

          • expatchad

            Edith is not here today.

        • heckblazer

          In the 1960s British Coal was owned and operated by the UK national government. This of course was back when even the Tories were a bunch of socialists. The MP bit sounds dodgy but in the City of London (the square mile one not to be confused with the giant Metropolitan London) businesses do get to vote in elections.

      • Well, then screw him. You cannot serve the people and mammon.

        • efgoldman

          You cannot serve the people…

          And the first thing across my weird mind is the classic Twilight Zone episode (although they’re all classic, aren’t they?)”To Serve Man.”

      • Maréchal de France Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau

        It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

        • Barry Freed

          Oops, that was me, I just forgot to change the default name.

          • Pestilence

            Did Rochambeau really make it all the way to Marechal?

            • Barry Freed

              For a brief time yes, but I figured I ought to use the highest title he achieved for full effect in that other thread.

  • grouchomarxist

    Mom’s™ Fracking Fluid:

    The Secret Ingredient is Love©

  • Vance Maverick

    I like how he anticipates attacks based on “not knowing the process”, and proposes to prevent them by…keeping the process secret.

    • DrDick

      Much easier to refute that way.

      • Vance Maverick

        He’d be even safer if people didn’t know there was a process at all. “Fracking, what’s that? A euphemism from some science fiction show?”

  • Jay B.

    Bratton objected to the bill, saying that requiring companies to disclose fracking chemicals—which he said were components “we use in our everyday lives”–was like requiring grocery stores to disclose all the ingredients in products they sell, like toothpaste

    Is that a joke? I mean really, does he not know? Is that really an argument? Has he never read what goes into toothpaste, which they conveniently put right on the box? Which is easily accessible in the grocery aisle?

    • McAllen

      I am perfectly willing to believe this guy has never been in a grocery store in his life.

      • efgoldman

        Don’t be silly. He’s gotta’ buy his beer, Slim Jims and Marlboros somewhere.

        • Malaclypse

          He has people for that.

          • Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko and Kazimierz Michał Wacław Wiktor Pułaski

            His wife?

      • Jay B.

        I guess that could be true. But it seems amazing. I mean that sincerely. His existence is so far removed from mine that I literally couldn’t conceive of thinking that product ingredients aren’t on the bags, boxes or cartons of the things I buy. I go to the store two or three times a week, but even if I went once in my life, i would easily see reality.

        I would never take his view that such a normal, quotidian thing is just about the most jaw-dropping thing one could ever even imagine — I mean ingredients? On products? In grocery stores?! It’s like saying “Can you imagine clothes made out cotton?” Or “What’s next, beer makers wanting there to be alcohol content in their beer?”

        Stupid and evil, of course. Which is also the tell that there is some SERIOUS shit in the fracking fluid and almost certainly deadly in some minute quantity.

        • Rob

          My guess? He considers shopping women’s work.

  • efgoldman

    Has anybody asked the assklown if he’s invited his company to do some fracking in his own fracking back yard? Near his well? He does know (or perhaps he doesn’t) that water is an especially precious resource in the desert Southwest, right?

  • solvents are tasty

    One would think it would be helpful to know what is in the solution so you could make the correct choice for how you are going to dispose of all that water. Guess gas execs still want to be able to take the fracking fluid to the local water treatment plant.

  • Vance Maverick

    I’m absolutely with Egolf at the end. There’s a formal similarity that jumps out at me, to arguments about privacy and our dealings with enforcement — one might hear claims that “if you’re not committing a crime, you have nothing to hide, and nothing to worry about!” The difference, of course, is that that specious logic regards the individual, while the proposed law affects corporations. The distinction between Republicans and humans could not be starker.

    I was recently called to jury service, for an asbestos claims case. The lawyers for the defendant corporations (makers of construction material) gave us a long questionnaire. One question was whether we felt that the law should be applied equally to corporations and individuals. I wrote that to operate as a corporation is a huge privilege, and it seemed sensible that stricter laws should apply. (The case was settled out of court, so I never learned how that sat with the lawyers for Engulf and Devour.)

  • heckblazer

    Ah, the good old days before food labeling when you could buy candy made with dyes that used arsenic and coal tar.

  • cpinva

    pretty much all state legislators are part-timers, since the majority of state legislatures only meet for a couple of months a year, and the direct pay is negligible. in va, our legislator’s conflict of interest is attorneys. they get elected, and proceed to make laws that, surprise, surprise, tend to increase the billable hours of………..attorneys. i’d guess each state has it’s own brand of conflict of interest. the southwest would be the petrochemical industry, west va/kentucky is coal, washington state would be the aeronautical/defense/software industries, etc., etc., etc.

    you don’t seriously think these guys go through all that hassle to get elected, just so they can have that spiffy, state legislator license plate on their car, do you?

    • Hogan

      I read a story about a speaker of the Maryland House who owned a chain of package liquor stores and was about to vote for a bill giving package stores an advantage over taverns. A reporter asked him if that wasn’t a conflict of interest, and the speaker looked confused. “No, the bill is in my interest and I’m voting for it. Where’s the conflict?”

  • trollhattan

    How many gazillion gallons of Corexit did they pump into the Gulf (an untested use) before EPA forced Nalco to reveal the ingredients? Fracking fluids have many times more ingredients that Corexit and the makers all hide behind the “proprietary” veil.

    My best wishes to New Mexico, they’re going to need all the help they can muster.

    • cpinva

      “proprietary”, when used by a chemical company, invariably means “shit we don’t want to tell you what it is, because if we did, not only would you sue us into bankruptcy, but would also show up on the front lawns of our houses, lit torches and pitchforks in hand, to make an example of us.”

  • anonymous

    I’ll never understand why these guys think “We can’t tell because if people know what we’re up to, we’re going to get sued” is an acceptable argument.

    • Domino

      They sold their soul to climb the corporate ladder long ago. So long that at some point during the climb they forgot what it meant to have one.

      • cpinva

        that too, but really, they’re just dumbasses.

  • Domino

    The bill passed the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a vote of 6 to 5, and now moves to the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee.

    6 to 5. 4 others shared that assholes view that people should not know what pollutes their water. Almost unbelievable. I’m young and only been following politics for a little, and already starting to grown cynical about the whole process, but this is almost unbelievable.

    • efgoldman

      I’m young and only been following politics for a little, and already starting to grown cynical about the whole process

      You are learning well, Grasshopper. The cynicism is strong within you. Go to the dark side, you will, and welcome.

      • cpinva

        damn, beat me to it!

  • Bruce Baugh

    Something I never thought about until reading this article with other impressive corporate screwups in mind….

    I wonder if a bunch of companies doing fracking literally don’t know what they’re pumping in.

    I’m thinking of the ongoing disaster of mortgage banking here, with the robo-signers and banks foreclosing on properties they never had a claim to and all. I’m prepared to believe that Fracking Company A is just buying whatever Partner Company B sells it as good for fracking and pumps that stuff right in. And heck, B in turn could be dealing with various associates and arranger in a network whose outcome is that, literally, nobody ever actually has access to a master roster of what the hell they’re using.

    • Malaclypse

      In theory, that should not be possible, as there should be MSDS specs for any chemical being used.

  • Apparently an informed electorate is just a pain so why have them?

  • Joe

    Anyone around here watch Promised Land? We had a few blogs about Lincoln but none I recall on this film.

  • Jon C

    Can’t he at least argue that disclosure would destroy companies’ incentives to innovate new and more powerful methods of fracking the hydrocarbons out of our lands?

    • Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko and Kazimierz Michał Wacław Wiktor Pułaski

      more likely revealing trade secrets will be the argument

      • Jon C

        Exactly my point — at least that would be a rational argument (though stupid), rather than just saying disclosure is unnecessary because there’s nothing to disclose.

  • Alan in SF

    It’s astonishing how often the multi-gazillion dollar cost of printing different words on your label is cited as a dispositive argument against providing vital consumer information.

  • Coconino

    The oil and gas industry in NM is well-loved and supported by most residents in the very conservative potions of NM. The rest of us New Mexicans understand the importance of the industry, but would like to see A LOT more regulation/oversight of the industry from the planning to drilling to product extraction phases. The environmental costs of O&G development in NM have been huge. Doubt me? Look at San Juan and Rio Arriba counties on Google Earth, near Navajo Reservoir. I rest that case.

    When I first moved here from CA, I was shocked to learn that the legislature was not paid, and only met for two months at the beginning of the year. After a few years of CWA regulation efforts in San Juan County, and understanding that the state mostly doesn’t even have local zoning, I came to the sad realization that most of the conservative, poorly-educated residents prefer not to have any government, even when it is trying to help them in terms of enhancing, preserving, and protecting their water quality. Or anything else, for that matter.

    Richardson, as governor, put in place pit rules to more rigorously regulate O&G on non-BLM regulated land (effectively, state lands, as often, private lands split-estate mineral rights are regulated by BLM). Governor Martinez chucked those as soon as she got in office.

    I love my adopted state. Every once in awhile, though, the stupid here makes me want to move back to LA.

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