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December 06, 2016
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Gas at a glance

Diesel fuel-laced frack fluids pumped underground

A recent Congressional report by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee revealing the use of diesel fuel in gas drilling hydraulic fracturing operations is renewing calls for mandatory full disclosure of chemicals used by companies drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. “We need to end this system of voluntary disclosure by companies and have a clear mandatory requirement that all chemical usage is disclosed to the public,” stated Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action. A year-long probe led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California has revealed that oil and gas companies have injected more than 32 million gallons of fluids containing diesel fuel underground without first getting government approval, according to the Associated Press.

Lawmakers said the use of diesel fuel by large companies appears to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act. The investigation found that 12 of 14 companies hired to perform hydraulic fracturing also used diesel alone or in a mixture from 2005 to 2009. Waxman and Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said they want more information on some of the chemicals used in the drilling process, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. A Halliburton spokeswoman said the Energy and Commerce report was inaccurate. “Halliburton does not believe that the company’s hydraulic fracturing activities have resulted in a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act or any other federal environmental law,” said spokeswoman Teresa Wong. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency is still reviewing the information.

EPA submits Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan for review

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted its draft study plan on hydraulic fracturing for review to the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group of independent scientists. EPA scientists are undertaking a study of this practice to better understand any potential impacts it may have, including on groundwater. EPA announced its intention to conduct the study in March 2010. Since then, EPA has held a series of public meetings across the country and the agency has developed a sound draft plan for moving forward with the study. The scope of the proposed research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, from acquisition of the water, through the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing, to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water and its ultimate treatment and disposal. The SAB plans to review the draft plan March 7-8, 2011.

Stakeholders and the public will have an opportunity to provide comments to the SAB during their review. The agency will revise the study plan in response to the SAB’s comments and promptly begin the study. Initial research results and study findings are expected to be made public by the end of 2012, with the goal of an additional report following further research in 2014. Visit