A new report, published earlier this week by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), alleges that several oil and gas companies have been illegally using diesel fuel in their hydraulic fracturing operations, and then falsifying the records to hide the fact that they’re violating the federal government’s Safe Drinking Water Act.
The watchdog group’s report found that, between 2010 and July 2014, at least 351 wells in 12 states were fracked by 33 different companies who used diesel fuel in the process without a permit. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a process which involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals in order to crack geological formations and gain access to oil and natural as reserves.
Diesel fuel contains several harmful carcinogens and neurotoxins, and it’s for this reason that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly regulates its use in fracking and requires that companies meet a set of guidelines before receiving permission to use it. According to the EIP’s report, however, several companies used diesel fuel to supplement water in their fracking operations without acquiring the necessary permits to do so.
FracFocus is an online registry that allows companies to list the chemicals that they use in their fracking process. At least ten states – including oil powerhouses like Texas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma – require by law that companies use the website for such disclosures. The EPI’s report asserts that the industry data presented on the website shows that several companies admitted to using diesel fuel without a proper permit. Around 30% of those companies ended up removing the information from the database.
“What’s problematic is that this is an industry that is self-reporting and self-policing,” said Mary Greene, senior managing attorney for the environmental organization. “There’s no federal or state oversight of filings with FracFocus”.
Read more about the story at Scientific American.