Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Halliburton has refused to disclose the water-polluting chemicals it uses in a controversial gas drilling technique currently under investigation by the agency. The technique, known as hydraulic fracturing, is a process in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to extract the gas from underground deposits.
The Safe Drinking Water Act was designed to protect drinking water supplies from contamination by the injection of liquid wastes into the ground. The Bush-Cheney administration destroyed the effectiveness of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, when it passed the “Halliburton loophole,” which exempts hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Act. The Halliburton loophole allows the gas industry to inject millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals into the earth during the hydraulic fracturing process without having to disclose the nature or quantity of those chemicals unless they contain diesel fuel. Although in 2003 Halliburton and two other major gas industry players promised EPA that they would not inject diesel fuel near drinking water sources, Halliburton and others have admitted to ignoring these promises and injecting hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into the earth between 2005 and today.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Associate Attorney Megan Klein:
“As if being exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act wasn’t enough, Halliburton is now refusing to comply with EPA requests designed to protect public health. Clearly, when it comes to the oil and gas industry, asking nicely isn’t enough. We need strong, enforceable rules requiring Halliburton and the rest of the gas industry to lift the shroud of secrecy currently protecting their use of chemicals in hydraulic fracturing operations across the county. These rules must force the gas industry not only to identify the chemicals they inject near the nation’s groundwater supplies but also to inform the public about the potential health and environmental risks associated with these chemicals. It’s time that EPA stop Halliburton from amassing profit at the direct expense of public health.”