Fracking wells (also known as hydrofracturing) each consume and pollute many millions of gallons of water, both below ground and on the surface. New technology allows for deeper wells and sideways drilling, and has brought explosive growth. Injection of water mixed with sand and chemicals, contaminated wastewater, and surface operations around wells are causing pollution and other problems across the U.S. So far, states have failed to protect affected communities or their water.
Big Oil and Gas won legislation in 2005 (the Energy Policy Act) to exempt fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But lawmakers left one important exception: when diesel fuel is used. Congressional researchers found that more than 30 million gallons of diesel were injected underground by fracking operations between 2005 and 2009.
Diesel's widespread use in fracking fluids means chemicals linked to cancer, kidney and liver problems, and nervous system damage - benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX compounds) - now threaten underground drinking water sources. These chemicals dissolve easily in water and are toxic at very low levels.
Clean Water Action will continue to support legislation to remove this exemption.
On May 4, EPA unveiled new proposals for protecting drinking water sources from fracking that uses diesel, and invited input from the public. Clean Water Action is pushing for the strongest possible rules. EPA needs to hear from you right away, during the official comment period: Make sure EPA does the right thing and keeps frack diesel and BTEX toxics away from our water.