For Immediate Release
Dusty Horwitt, Environmental Working Group: 202-939-9133
and Lauren Pagel, EARTHWORKS: 202-550-8960
Fracking for Natural Gas and Oil May Have Broken the Law
Companies Injected Diesel in 15 States, But Locations are Unknown
WASHINGTON - More than 25 conservation and community organizations from across the
United States asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a
congressional committee to investigate whether natural gas and oil
companies broke the law by injecting diesel fuel underground in a
controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing.
The groups sent letters today to the EPA and the U.S. House of
Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. The letters asked them
to determine whether companies violated the federal Safe Drinking Water
Act (SDWA) in their fracturing operations.
In February, the House Energy and Commerce Committee disclosed as
part of an investigation into hydraulic fracturing that energy companies
Halliburton and B.J. Services had used diesel in hydraulic fracturing
operations in at least 15 states in 2005, 2006 and 2007. However the
companies did not reveal to the committee precisely where these
One of the letters released today also asks the committee to
investigate exactly where and when the companies injected diesel so that
communities can protect themselves. The more than 25 organizations
simultaneously sent letters to the three fracturing companies named in
the committee's February disclosure, Halliburton, B.J. Services and
Schlumberger, asking the companies to state where and when they injected
diesel and related compounds.
"Oil washing up on our shores is not the only threat America
currently faces from the oil and gas industry," said Lynn Senick with
Northeast Pennsylvania Gas Action. "Currently, there is not a system in
place to make sure that toxic diesel fuel is not polluting our drinking
"As someone who lives with oil and gas operations in my backyard, I
am imploring the EPA to find out whether or not any hydraulic fracturing
companies have violated the Safe Drinking Water Act by using diesel
fuel, and take action accordingly," said Janine Fitzgerald, a landowner
and farmer near Bayfield Colorado.
"Fracking," as it is known, involves the underground injection of up
to eight million gallons of fluid per well at extremely high pressure.
The fluid fractures rock formations to allow natural gas or oil to flow
more easily. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) exempted hydraulic
fracturing from regulation under the (SDWA)-unless diesel fuel is used.
The SDWA sets standards for underground injections to ensure that they
do not contaminate underground sources of drinking water.
Diesel and other compounds found in fracturing fluids contain
benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, substances that are toxic in
water at very low levels. Benzene, a known human carcinogen, has been
found in drinking water sources after hydraulic fracturing has taken
In 2003, Halliburton, B.J. Services and Schlumberger, the three
largest hydraulic fracturing companies, signed a non-binding memorandum
of agreement with the EPA that they would not inject diesel fuel
directly into underground sources of drinking water during the
fracturing process for coalbed methane production. According to the
Energy and Commerce Committee's February report, B.J. Services violated
"This industry has proven time and time again than they cannot be
trusted to regulate themselves," affirmed Wes Gillingham with Catskill
Mountainkeeper. "Full regulation of hydraulic fracturing is needed to
ensure that our drinking water is protected."
Twin bills have been introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 2766
and S. 1215) to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to give the
Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the process of
hydraulic fracturing and require disclosure of the chemicals used in
EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org
EARTHWORKS is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of energy and mineral extraction, in the U.S. and internationally. http://www.earthworksaction.org