The Montana Oil and Gas Conservation Board turned back an effort to force energy companies to inform the public about toxic hydraulic fracturing chemicals used extract oil and gas trapped in rock formations.  Environmental groups, health advocates and landowners want companies to disclose the nature of the large volumes of industrial chemicals pumped into the soil, bedrock and even sources of groundwater.


The Board voted unanimously against a petition Thursday that would have made companies either disclose details of the chemicals used or justify withholding the information.  The board’s action left in place a 2011 state rule that allows companies to conceal the fracking compounds that are considered to be trade secrets, in spite of public health risks.  A legal challenge to a different aspect of the 2011 rule is pending before the Montana Supreme Court, opting not to impose a new rule while that case is unresolved.