Americans Call For Tighter Regulation of Hydraulic 'Fracking' in Oil and Gas Drilling

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, (512) 289-8618
Gwen Lachelt, EARTHWORKS, (505) 469-0380

Americans Call For Tighter Regulation of Hydraulic 'Fracking' in Oil and Gas Drilling

Overflow Crowds of Concerned Residents Attend EPA Public Meetings across the Country

BINGHAMPTION, NY - Thousands of Americans are calling on the Environmental Protection
Agency to conduct a comprehensive study of the environmental and health
threats of natural gas fracturing. Pollution from this drilling
technique – commonly known as fracking – has been the focus of three
heavily attended public meetings in Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania
this summer. The final meetings, next week in Binghamton, N.Y., drew so
much interest that the EPA was initially forced to reschedule them.
 
"Natural
gas companies should welcome additional scrutiny and embrace regulation
that will protect public health and the environment," said Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton.
"Indeed some of them have already called for greater disclosure. EPA’s
proposed scope of study is a good first step but it can and should go
much further. This hydraulic fracturing study must be fully funded to
allow an in-depth analysis of the data. We also need changes in federal
and state regulations requiring this industry to protect our air, water,
and communities."

Fracking involves the high pressure injection of enormous amounts of
water, sand and chemicals into drilling sites to force gas deposits to
the surface. Estimates vary, but anywhere from 30% to 85% of fracking
fluids remain underground and could potentially harm underground water
resources.  Most wells are fracked several times over the life of the
well. The EPA should also study threats to geological formations from
drilling and fracking to identify ground fractures that have the
potential to carry fracking fluids to domestic drinking water supplies.

"Oil and gas drilling is spreading across the American landscape with
little regulation, putting our air, water and health at risk," says Gwen Lachelt, Director of EARTHWORKS’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project.
"This industry is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and most
other environmental laws. Hopefully this new EPA study will provide a
scientifically reliable, independent analysis of the impacts of
fracking."

Improperly sealed drilling wells can also contaminate groundwater.
The industry claims that less than 1 percent of fracking fluids are
comprised of chemical agents but EARTHWORKS' research shows that
companies can use as much as 40 tons of chemicals for every million
gallons of water used in fracking.  There are no requirements at the
federal level to compel industry to disclose what chemicals it is
injecting into the ground, although just this week the EPA announced
that it is asking natural gas companies to voluntarily disclose this
information.

The EPA proposes to study the relationship between hydraulic
fracturing and its potential drinking water pollution. The EPA’s Science
Advisory Board -- an independent, external federal advisory committee
-- recently recommended that EPA’s study look at the entire life cycle
of fracturing operations.

Oil and gas is produced in 34 states from an estimated 800,000 wells,
according to the Energy Information Agency. Under the 2005 Energy
Policy Act, fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Oil and
gas producers are also exempted from part of the Clean Water Act,
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) governing hazardous waste,
the federal Superfund law, the National Environmental Policy Act, the
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (which requires
companies to report their toxic releases), and part of the Clean Air
Act. These exemptions threaten the air, water and health of communities
affected by natural gas.

The final public meetings on the proposed EPA study are September 13
and 15, 2010 in Binghamton, NY, in the heart of the gas-rich Marcellus
Shale formation. For more information on these meetings, contact Roger
Downs at roger.downs@sierraclub.org or Nadia Steinzor at nsteinzor@earthworksaction.org.

For more information visit

http://sierraclub.org/naturalgas/
http://hfmeeting.cadmusweb.com/
http://www.earthworksaction.org/hydfracking.cfm

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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