Disclosure Is Costly

I was walking into the elevator at work today and noticed a newsbite referring to this article.

Natural Gas companies are “bowing to pressure” from “environmentalist groups” and disclosing the chemicals used in the hydrofracking process.

“Good”, public-minded folks might perhaps think, “‘those bastards were hiding the recipe because they KNEW they were destroying the environment (*spits*). Evil [bleep]ing corporations”

Don’t worry, the article is designed to foster this kind of response (or perhaps an equally ferocious primal scream of “I HATE ENVIRONMENTALISTS”).

Try to think of a narrative that doesn’t pit one group against another. Why would a natural gas company be so cagey with this information?

Here’s a clue:

In a significant break from past practice, Range says it will begin submitting a detailed list of all chemicals and additives, and the volumes, used to fracture each of its gas wells to the state.

Two bits in that are interesting: “significant break from past practice” and “detailed list [etc…]. I’ll translate: “we’ve never done this before” and “it’s a really effing complicated list, possibly involving several departments in the company that probably don’t talk to each other much.”

I’d bet it’s something of a project to accumulate all this information, check it twice, publish it and deal with all the press and scrutiny that results. That’s going to cost lots of money and time for this organization.

If this was a person, not a company, the process is simple. The person just says “oh, I use these chemicals”.

Companies are giant networks of people. Different rules.

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