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Cracked: 15 Things to Know About Gas, Money and Power

By Eric Roston and Tom Randall - 2014-02-21T13:10:53Z

Photograph by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

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Secret Sauce

What kind of chemicals are drillers piping into the ground when they frack a well? We’re told they’re safe, but how safe? 

Complete disclosure of what’s in ‘fracking fluids’ is an ongoing debate between industry, who tend to prefer to keep trade secrets to themselves, and environmentalists, who prefer to know what man-made substances are being injected into the ground. The oil-and-gas industry started a voluntary disclosure site,, which offers well-by-well lists of chemicals. Ten states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, mandate disclosure to FracFocus. Elsewhere it’s voluntary.

Environmentalists want a mandatory and comprehensive requirement. FracFocus “is imperfect, but it’s being updated,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told a House of Representatives panel in July. If it’s not providing adequate disclosure, “we will look for other ways to do it.”