For your consideration, the letter written in 2004 by Weston Wilson, EPA employee, expressing his concerns about the EPA's report on the safety of frac'ing in Colorado. It is specific to coalbed methane production.
elephant in the room ...
"The probe found no evidence that the use of diesel fuel contaminated water supplies. The year-long probe was led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and other two other Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Waxman is the panel's senior Democrat and a former chairman.
The investigation found that 12 of 14 companies hired to perform hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," used diesel alone or in a mixture from 2005 to 2009. Of the 32.2 million gallons reported, most was injected in Texas, followed by Oklahoma, North Dakota, Louisiana and Wyoming.
None of the companies surveyed could provide data on whether they performed hydraulic fracturing in or near underground sources of drinking water, the lawmakers said."
Yep, it can get worse ... here is a NY Times article about diesel use in fracking. Yikes. This is bad.
Thanks much, Logger. That provided a bit more detail about how much was used in particular states. Again, each state is different in it's regs, geology & what is being produced. Not to mention what their water needs are and their environmental issues. Oddly, I've recently read evidence that the current Administration supports ng as a fuel source for electric power. Got to power the Blackberries & other gadgets, don't ya' know. lol
This looks like the tip of the iceberg, perhaps a GPS map, of where the investigation could be headed. Perhaps it would have been better to allow the 2004 report to be completed rather than have a whistleblower fan the tinder, especially in light of this past summer's drilling event, or non-event depending on which side of the fence one falls?
Now, wonder how many ppb is allowable and how much has been/will be found in samplings?
Here's the 2004 report ...
The diesel fuel was used by drillers as part of a contentious process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives — including diesel fuel — into rock formations deep underground. The process, which has opened up vast new deposits of natural gas to drilling, creates and props open fissures in the rock to ease the release of oil and gas.
But concerns have been growing over the potential for fracking chemicals — particularly those found in diesel fuel — to contaminate underground sources of drinking water.
“We learned that no oil and gas service companies have sought — and no state and federal regulators have issued — permits for diesel fuel use in hydraulic fracturing,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California and two other Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in the letter. “This appears to be a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
Oil and gas companies acknowledged using diesel fuel in their fracking fluids, but they rejected the House Democrats’ assertion that it was illegal. They said that the E.P.A. had never properly developed rules and procedures to regulate the use of diesel in fracking, despite a clear grant of authority from Congress over the issue.
“Everyone understands that E.P.A. is at least interested in regulating fracking,” said Matt Armstrong, a lawyer with the Washington firm Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents several oil and gas companies. “Whether the E.P.A. has the chutzpah to try to impose retroactive liability for use of diesel in fracking, well, everyone is in a wait-and-see mode. I suspect it will have a significant fight on its hands if it tried it do that.”
Regardless of the legal outcome, the Waxman findings are certain to intensify an already contentious debate among legislators, natural gas companies and environmentalists over the safety of oil and gas development in general, and fracking in particular.
Oil services companies had traditionally used diesel fuel as part of their fracturing cocktails because it helped to dissolve and disperse other chemicals suspended in the fluid. But some of the chemical components of diesel fuel, including toluene, xylene and benzene, a carcinogen, have alarmed both regulators and environmental groups. They argue that some of those chemicals could find their way out of a well bore — either because of migration through layers of rock or spills and sloppy handling — and into nearby sources of drinking water.
An E.P.A. investigation in 2004 failed to find any threat to drinking water from fracking — a conclusion that was widely dismissed by critics as politically motivated. The agency has taken up the issue again in a new investigation started last year, although the results are not expected until 2012 at the earliest.
The House committee began its own investigation in February last year, when Democrats were in the majority. In Monday’s letter, Mr. Waxman, along with Representatives Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado, said that they were so far “unable to draw definitive conclusions about the potential impact of these injections on public health or the environment.”
Still, the investigators said that three of the largest oil and gas services companies — Halliburton, Schlumberger and BJ Services — signed an agreement with the E.P.A. in 2003 intended to curtail the use of diesel in fracking in certain shallow formations.
Two years later, when Congress amended the Safe Water Drinking Act to exclude regulation of hydraulic fracturing, it made an express exception that allowed regulation of diesel fuel used in fracking.
The Congressional investigators sent letters to 14 companies requesting details on the type and volume of fracking chemicals they used. Although many companies said they had eliminated or were cutting back on use of diesel, 12 companies reported having used 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel, or fluids containing diesel fuel, in their fracking processes from 2005 to 2009.
The diesel-laced fluids were used in a total of 19 states. Approximately half the total volume was deployed in Texas, but at least a million gallons of diesel-containing fluids were also used in Oklahoma (3.3 million gallons); North Dakota (3.1 million); Louisiana (2.9 million); Wyoming (2.9 million); and Colorado (1.3 million).
Where this leaves the companies in relation to federal law is unclear.
Mr. Waxman and his colleagues say that the Safe Drinking Water Act left diesel-based hydraulic fracturing under the auspices of E.P.A.’s “underground injection control program,” which requires companies to obtain permits, either from state or federal regulators, for a variety of activities that involve putting fluids underground.
No permits for diesel-based fracking have been sought or granted since the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended in 2005.
Lee Fuller, a vice president for government relations with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said that was because the E.P.A. had never followed up by creating rules and procedures for obtaining such permits and submitting them for public comment.
The agency did quietly update its Web site last summer with language suggesting that fracking with diesel was, indeed, covered as part of the underground injection program, which would suggest that permits should have been obtained. But Mr. Fuller’s organization, along with the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, has gone to court to challenge the Web posting, arguing that it amounted to new rule-making that circumvented administrative requirements for notice and public commentary.
The E.P.A. said Monday that it was reviewing the accusations from the three House Democrats that the companies named were in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
“Our goal is to put in place a clear framework for permitting so that fracturing operations using diesel receive the review required by law,” Betsaida Alcantara, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message. “We will provide further information about our plans as they develop.”
I'm an ignoramus, but I thought the Clean Water Act-the one favored by former Vice President Dick Cheney, essentially gave immunity to the fracking industry. One of the articles said that an EPA website update brought that into dispute? Do I have this all wrong?
Oh, and IS there a map showing where the diesel was used?
CypressKnees - The post right above you (third paragraph from bottom) has the answer to your first question.
As for your second question ...
"None of the companies surveyed could provide data on whether they performed hydraulic
fracturing in or near underground sources of drinking water, the lawmakers said."
I'm going to speculate here, IF they can't provide the data then a map can't be had. I'll add that I don't think it's a matter of whether they're able but more a matter of whether they want to provide the data.
Maybe someone can add more here?
thanks for the questions 80)
Several years ago the EPA or someone began a crackdown on fuel storage tanks used by every fuel retailer in the country. Many of these tanks were installed years ago and were leaking fuel into the water supplies of many communities.
I have a friend who made a mint either removing the tanks entirely, or installing new tanks. Meanwhile, in this same time period, many operators closed the doors on their business because they couldn't afford to have the work performed. They sold out and the new owners had the buildings demolished and the tanks removed, then put in a new business. I'm sure the new owners got a big discount on the property, due to knowing what they would have to do to come into compliance.
I saw several of these tanks after they were dug up, and some of them hardly had a bottom left intact. My friend liked to find those, because then, he got to dig and haul away the contaminated clay soil, more money in his pocket.
A outcry from the small business's being affected was heard, but at the same time, other small businesses, (my friend), was smiling all the way to the bank. Regardlessly, the tanks were releasing fuel into the water supply and needed to be corrected.
I feel in the end, the issue of 'fracking' will be settled, no one wants polluted water to drink, no matter where it comes from. The O & G industry has a duty to be good stewards of their operations and I believe that most of them do so. Sometimes it's hard to spend extra, or unnecessary funds, but that's the way the game is played.
The EPA is a god to some folks, and the devil to others, depending on where and what you're investments are.
Thanks, Max. With regard to your last statement, I suppose the same could be said of the energy industries.
Now, as for the EPA, there's news of drafted/pending legislation, coming from the House,designed to handcuff the agency with regards to clean air rule-making. I'm wondering if it will also include restrictions on rule making for drilling/fracing. Maybe we should all start collecting rainwater then nobody would have to worry about any of this?
I wouldn't start collecting rainwater just yet. A report was released yesterday about mercury contamination and Texas was number one on the list.
The mercury comes from Coal-Fired power plants and is released into the air, where through rain, it ends up in streams, rivers, and lakes. The state is busy posting warning signs on many waterways and lakes to warn the public to not consume fish from those sources of water.
About ten years ago, the company I worked for sent a team of engineers to our plant to look into where a scrubber could be placed in the flue gas system to remove the mercury. I was assigned to help them access different sections of the duct works and spent several days on 'Engineer Duty'. I overheard a lot of the ideas they came up with, but the head engineer was there to contain cost. The end of the story, it cost to much, they went back to the main office and we pushed the start button to burn more coal.
I'm sure that someday soon, the EPA will began a program to address this issue, but in the meantime, I would use a carbon filter on my drinking water and stay away from the rainwater.