Tuesday, April 12, 2011

EPA's No. 2 official says drillers who fractured wells with diesel fuel violated federal law

The Environmental Protection Agency's No. 2 official told a congressional hearing today that drillers who used diesel fuel to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells without a permit violated federal law. "The assertion by Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe means some companies that have acknowledged injecting diesel could be subject to sanctions under the Safe Drinking Water Act," Mike Soraghan reports for Greenwire. "It is a technical but politically charged question in the ongoing debate about regulation of the fracturing process."

Drillers have acknowledged injecting at least 32 million gallons of diesel fuel during fracturing, though an EPA official told congressional investigators that the agency "had assumed that the use of diesel had stopped seven years ago," Soraghan writes. "Of the total figure, 10 million gallons was 'straight diesel fuel,' the investigation found, while another 22 million gallons was products containing at least 30 percent diesel." After the Environmental Working Group "found confusion among state officials about the diesel exemption" and issued a report last year, charging that many wells were diesel-fractured without the necessary permits, "EPA posted rules about fracturing with diesel on its website without notice." The Independent Petroleum Association of America is challenging the rules in federal court. "Industry representatives said EPA never clarified to them whether they could be penalized for that past use," Soraghan writes. (Subscription required)

No comments: