Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Fossil Fuels

EPA Asks Natural Gas Drillers to Disclose Chemicals in Fracking Brine

EPA asks gas drilling companies to disclose the chemicals in fracking brine
In a long overdue measure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that it has asked drilling companies for information on the 200-plus chemicals routinely pumped into the ground during a natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing. Also known as fracking, the practice has touched off a firestorm of concern over groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania and other states.

The operative word here is “ask,” because compliance with the request is voluntary. However, considered the decades-long immunity that drilling companies have enjoyed from scrutiny – and EPA’s aggressive rediscovery of its intended mission under the Obama administration – this “voluntary” request could soon turn into an enforceable demand.

Fracking and Environmental Protection – a Brief History

Over the past 30-plus years, fracking has been exempted from major federal laws intended to protect the environment, including the Clean Water Act, the Safe Water Drinking Act, and parts of the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act.  Companies are not required to disclose the chemicals in fracking brine because they claim the information is proprietary, and in recent years their exempt status was reaffirmed under the Bush administration – what a surprise.

Fracking and Trucking

Currently, just about the only thing about fracking that can be agressively regulated is the trucks. Fracking operations can involve a great number of trucks, not only to haul heavy equipment but also for hauling fracking brine and wastewater.  The trucks can wreak havoc on local communities that were not designed to accommodate them, by disrupting traffic, destroying roads, and creating air and noise pollution. In a recent crackdown, Pennsylvania inspectors uncovered widespread road safety violations by tanker trucks hauling fracking-related liquids.

EPA is So Fracking Serious

Though the initial request for disclosure is voluntary, the EPA has made it clear that it intends to pursue the issue all the way.  In last week’s press release announcing the request, the agency stated that because the industry has already made these disclosures separately to Congress, cooperation is expected. If the drilling companies are not forthcoming, “EPA is prepared to use its authorities to require the information.”

Image: Warning sign for gas operation by Nicholas_T on

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


You May Also Like

Clean Transport

Electric school buses are experiencing rapid growth in the United States, with a nearly 10-fold increase in commitments by school districts and fleet operators in the...

Clean Power

In Part 1, I explained an alternative approach to looking at Supreme Court cases that don’t go your way. Rather than just be angry...

Clean Power

Originally, I was going to write about the West Virginia vs EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) case the day it came out. But, with a...

Climate Change

This term, alongside a number of cases with the potential for seismic implications, the Supreme Court also took up West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency....

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.