Friday, September 10, 2010

EPA asks drillers to disclose fracking fluids

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday asked nine drilling companies for information about chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing. The request was part of the agency's preparation for a long-term study of the effects of "fracking." In a letter the agency asked them to respond to the request "within seven days and to voluntarily provide the information within 30 days," Tom Zeller Jr. of The New York Times reports. EPA warned if the information was not handed over voluntarily, the agency "will be exploring legal alternatives to compel submission of the needed information."

"Natural gas is an important part of our nation’s energy future, and it’s critical that the extraction of this valuable natural resource does not come at the expense of safe water and healthy communities," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, said in a statement. EPA concluded in a 2004 study that fracking was essentially safe, but "critics quickly condemned that analysis as sloppy and politically motivated," Zeller writes. "Congress used that study as partial justification the following year to exempt hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act."

The letter went to Halliburton, BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI Energy, RPC Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services and Weatherford International. Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy G. Mann told Zeller the company had not yet received the request, but planned to fully cooperate with EPA. But a leading industry group took issue with the threat of  legal action for noncompliance. "I’m not sure how they would do that, or if they even have the authority to do that," Stephanie Meadows, upstream senior policy adviser for the American Petroleum Institute, told Zeller. (Read more)

No comments: