Superior Court hears arguments on release of gas well chemicals by Emily Petsko, February 24, 2015, Observer-Reporter
A Range Resources attorney argued in Superior Court Tuesday the natural gas drilling company should not bear the burden of producing a full list of products and chemicals it used at a well site in Amwell Township.
A three-judge panel heard arguments stemming from Range’s appeal of a Washington County Court order from last June that held Range responsible for obtaining a list of all chemicals, including proprietary products, from its manufacturers.
Range requested that the issue be argued separately from the main case, in which three Amwell families alleged that Range’s operations at the Yeager well site contaminated their water supplies and caused bodily harm. Kendra Smith, who along with her husband, John, is representing the three families, said their request for the products is “so intertwined with the heart of the case” that it would be impossible to separate the two – and thus the issue is not appealable. The Smiths represent Stacey Haney and her two children; Beth and John Voyles and their daughter; and Loren and Grace Kiskadden.
Smith said the information they requested as part of the pretrial discovery period is needed in order to pursue the families’ claims that certain chemicals allegedly migrated from Range’s well pad or impoundment into the families’ drinking water.
Bruce Rende, attorney for Range, argued that the appellees do not have a “compelling need” for the product information. He said any hazardous or potentially carcinogenic substances were already released on a material safety data sheet. He said the products being requested are “industry secrets” that are protected unless a sufficient reason is given to release the information.
He called the Washington County Court order, which was signed by former Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca, a “sweeping order” that requested information the company cannot access because many of the manufacturers are not parties in the case.
Judge Anne Lazarus said Range previously argued that it had already released the information and asked, “Isn’t this moot?”
Rende replied that Range had disclosed all products used in its fracking formula, but he said the court order requested additional information. In Range’s court brief, the company argued that the list could include products used for well pad construction, natural gas well drilling, hydraulic fracturing and general maintenance activities, including a “number of harmless products typically found on a work site” such as duct tape and hand soap.
President Judge Emeritus John Bender said he assumes that the trial court will act reasonably in its consideration of relevant information. He called the issue a “discovery problem” and asked if it could be resolved by the trial court.
Smith argued that Range has “exclusive access” to information on all the products it uses. She said Range should already know the properties of its products because those stipulations are outlined in sections of Act 13, the Oil and Gas Act and the Energy Policy Act. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
related to this case:
other Range cases:
Texas Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Range Resources vs Lipskys and their Methane Contaminated Drinking Water: “That’s exactly what the First Amendment is for — it’s to allow people to express those ideas …This is probably the poster child for what Slapp is”
Related in Canada:
2013: Evidence Presented by Encana to 41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION Standing Committee Natural Resources; Encana testifies the company taking step to stop frac’ing with benzene, diesel, chromium, arsenic, mercury; but Encana data on fracfocus proves otherwise
Encana chemicals at Rosebud
Slides from Ernst presentations.
2010 – Canada
MP Nathan Cullen: Mr. Dunn, to bring you back to another conversation, we had one of your competitors up earlier committing publicly to disclose the chemicals used in the fracturing process. Is that something Encana is doing right now or is willing to do in the future?
Mr. Richard Dunn (Vice-President, Canadian Division, Regulatory and Government Relations, Encana Corporation): Yes, we’re doing it now.
MP Nathan Cullen: You’re doing it right now. Again, just to be clear, because this committee has to write a report and recommendations to government to change the regulations to require companies—all of your competitors and Encana—to release information on all of the chemicals used in the fracturing process, I assume you would have no problem with that because it encourages greater public confidence in your operations?
Mr. Richard Dunn: Yes, absolutely, I agree with your comments on increasing public confidence and full disclosure.
As of February 24, 2015, Encana still hasn’t disclosed all chemicals injected at Rosebud, not even by last year’s court ordered deadline]