Washington, D.C. — Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released long-awaited guidance (see below for links) describing how the oil and gas industry may use diesel fuel in the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). When it takes effect sometime this year, this will be EPA’s first formal rule or guidance dealing with fracking’s threat to drinking water.
“Diesel and drinking water don't mix,” said Earthworks executive director Jennifer Krill. She continued, “Even the Cheney-era Congress recognized diesel’s hazard to drinking water. That’s why, even as they passed the Halliburton loophole to the Safe Drinking Water Act, Congress left the door open for this first-ever EPA oversight of fracking’s threat to drinking water.”
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in the Halliburton Loophole—except when diesel is used. This EPA action provides guidance for using the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control Program to protect underground sources of drinking water. As recently as October 2013, Congressional investigators found diesel use reported by fracking companies to the quasi-governmental reporting website FracFocus.org.
“Despite the fact that diesel is clearly being used in fracking, oil and gas companies continue to deny using diesel. The EPA should follow through with a formal rulemaking,” said Jennifer Krill. She continued, “This EPA diesel guidance sets a precedent, but until the Halliburton loophole is closed, Americans won’t be protected from the risk of getting poisoned by toxic fracking chemicals.”