Hydraulic fracturing has used diesel fuel in 19 states; "appears to be a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act"

Today, three Members of Congress sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding their investigation into the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing operations. U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman, Edward Markey, and Diana DeGette led an investigation that covered five years of hydraulic fracturing in 19 states. Their absolutely frightening findings:

  • 12 companies injected 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel or hydraulic fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel into oil or gas wells over five years;
  • Diesel fuel was a significant component of the diesel-containing fluids these companies injected.  The companies used 10.2 million gallons of straight diesel fuel and 21.8 million gallons of products containing at least 30% diesel fuel. 
  • Not one hydraulic fracturing company sought a permit for diesel fuel use in hydraulic fracturing. According to these Members of Congress: "This appears to be a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  It also means that the companies injecting diesel fuel have not performed the environmental reviews required by the law."
  • None of the companies could provide data on whether they performed hydraulic fracturing in or near underground sources of drinking water.
  • Regulators seemed completely unaware of this use of diesel.

I've blogged before about how toxic diesel is, and how it's been clear since 2005 that any hydraulic fracturing operations using diesel are subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Yet the industry is suing the EPA for its efforts to regulate the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing. I'm almost speechless at this unbelievable and enormous apparent violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act -- intended to protect innocent Americans. There are people around the country who fear that their drinking water is contaminated, perhaps due to hydraulic fracturing operations. We have been concerned about the gaping loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act for hydraulic fracturing operations that do not use diesel -- but now we also have to worry that companies and some regulators are ignoring the existing law on the books. Could there be any greater disregard for families and their health?