Pennsylvania court rules company must disclose chemicals used in fracking

Scientist examining water pollution
Source: DollarPhotoClub

In a landmark ruling, Superior Court of Pennsylvania has decided that a hydraulic fracturing company cannot refuse to provide discovery on the chemicals and substances used in the company’s drilling operations. While some U.S. companies elected to disclose the makup of their hydraulic fracturing liquid voluntarily, many have argued that such disclosure would be in breach of their trading secrets.

The ruling was the result of a case brought by Stacey Haney and five other plaintiffs, who sued Range Resources and other companies in Washington County Court of Common Pleas, seeking disclosure of chemicals used or brought to the Yeager Drill Site in Amwell Township, Pennsylvania.

According to Mealey’s Fracking Report, the Washington County court quashed the defendants’ privileged-based objection to service of a subpoena on URS Corp., an engineering firm retained by Range Resources.

Range then appealed to the Superior Court, arguing the trial court had erred when it issued an order permitting “an overly broad subpoena” that would require a party’s non-testifying expert to disclosure privileged material and work product in violation of the work product doctrine, attorney-client privilege and Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 4003.5(a)(3).

Mealey’s says the plaintiffs countered that Range Resources had “failed to establish that the requested material was protected.” The Superior Court panel ruled that “upon review we discern no basis for disturbing the trial court’s conclusion that [Range Resources] failed to invoke the protection of [PRCP] 4003.5(a)(3).”

Read more in: Haney v. Range Resources Appalachia Inc. v. Haney v. Slomax International Inc., Pa. Super Ct., No. 257 WDA 2015,

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