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Ohio Utica Shale

Eco-group displeased with EPA guidance on diesel fuel use

By Bob Downing Published: February 11, 2014

From Environment America today in the wake of the EPA guidance on fracking with diesel fuels:

Washington, D.C. – Today, as we learn more every day about the chemicals used in fracking that threaten our environment and health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a long-awaited guidance for regulating the use of diesel fuel in fracking fluid under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“Today's news of a gas well explosion in Pennsylvania that has left one person injured and one missing is yet another reminder of the dangers of fracking. And after the chemical spill disaster in West Virginia that left 300,000 West Virginians unable to drink their tap water, the importance of protecting our drinking water from new threats couldn’t be clearer. We know that diesel fuel is a toxic carcinogen and is a threat to drinking water if used in fracking,” said Environment America’s Clean Water Program Director Courtney Abrams. “The EPA has made a small step toward curbing one of many threats from fracking. And while EPA lacks the authority to stop fracking entirely, the agency can and should bar the use of diesel fuel in fracking fluid, once and for all.”

Fracking, a form of oil and gas drilling, uses toxic chemicals, sometimes including diesel fuel, mixed with millions of gallons of fresh water, to extract gas and oil reserves deep below the earth’s surface. Diesel fuel is incredibly toxic. It contains benzene, a known carcinogen, as well as toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes, which can damage our liver, kidneys and central nervous system. Benzenealone is so toxic that the concentration in drinking water “below which there is no known or expected risk to health” is zero.[i]

In 2011, the Obama administration convened a panel to make recommendations on shale gas development to the U.S. Department of Energy Science Advisory Board. The panel’s findings concluded “there is no technical or economic reason to use diesel in shale gas production.” As far back as 2004, the U.S. EPA concluded that the "use of diesel fuel in fracturing fluids poses the greatest threat to underground sources of drinking water.”[ii]

A 2011 inquiry by Reps. Henry Waxman (Cali.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) revealed that the oil and gas industry used at least 32 million gallons of fracking fluid containing diesel fuel in 19 states from 2005 to 2009.[iii] (See charts below.) Continued use of diesel in fracking fluid was confirmed again in August 2012 in an estimated 408 wells.[iv]

“The case for banning diesel in fracking fluid is clear. And given the other threats to our drinking water, air, health, and communities, we need to stop fracking altogether,” concluded Abrams.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.