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EPA goes after Halliburton on hydrofracking

The EPA wants to know which chemicals flow through these pipes. Halliburton won'
Emma Jacobs
The EPA wants to know which chemicals course through these pipes. Halliburton won't tell them. Halliburton is getting subpoenaed.

The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations are reporting that the EPA and Halliburton are butting heads over hydrofracking.

On Tuesday the EPA said it had subpoenaed Halliburton after the energy giant refused to disclose the chemicals it uses in the controversial drilling technique.

Hydrofracking relies on injecting a slurry of water, sand and chemicals into underground rock formations. The millions of gallons of slurry are used to force open channels in the earth's crust, thereby allowing oil and natural gas to flow upward.

Of nine major energy companies contacted by the EPA, Halliburton was the only one to refuse the agency's request for its chemical formulas.

Through a company spokesperson, Halliburton told the Wall Street Journal they were disappointed by today's move:

In a written statement, Houston-based Halliburton said the EPA made "unreasonable demands" that would potentially require the company to prepare approximately 50,000 spreadsheets of data. The company said it had been working with the agency "in good faith" and has turned over nearly 5,000 pages of documents as recently as last Friday.

Drilling companies have long sought to protect their chemical formulas, calling them proprietary.

The EPA is studying whether hydrofracking affects drinking water and the public health. As we've been reporting, the study comes as natural gas companies stand poised to expand Marcellus Shale development into New York state.

Today's announcement from the EPA is especially interesting, considering President Obama's recent indication that natural gas would be one of his lead olive branches to newly-empowered Republicans in Congress.

WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.