Quantcast

Coast Guard Drops Controversial Proposal to Ship Toxic Fracking Waste

Energy

In a win for clean water and public health, the U.S. Coast Guard quietly dropped its proposal today to allow barges on the nation's rivers and inter coastal waterways to transport toxic fracking wastewater.

“Shipping thousands of barrels of toxic wastewater down the rivers we drink from was a recipe for disaster," said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America's stop drilling program. “For the sake of our drinking water and our safety, we're glad to see this bad idea put to rest."

The U.S. Coast Guard quietly dropped its proposal to allow barges on the nation's rivers and inter coastal waterways to transport toxic fracking wastewater. Image credit: Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Fracking—the controversial drilling technique by which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected underground—creates vast quantities of toxic wastewater often laced with cancer causing chemicals and even radioactive material.

An Environment America Research & Policy Center report found that fracking operations produced 280 billion gallons of such wastewater in a single year—enough to cover DC in a 22-feet deep cesspool.

Despite its often dangerous contents, fracking wastewater is not considered hazardous by the federal government, and its transport, treatment and disposal is governed by a patchwork of federal and state regulations.

The October 2013 U.S. Coast Guard proposal came in response to a specific request by a tank barge, and was immediately met with widespread criticism. More than 98 percent of the 70,000 public comments submitted on the plan—including more than 29,000 collected from Environment America—were opposed. More than 100 organizations also called on the Coast Guard to drop its proposed policy.

While shipments of fracking waste could still be approved on a case-by-case basis, no such approval has ever been granted. Clean water advocates said they would remain vigilant and advocate against future applications that would ship fracking waste by barge.

“Until we ban fracking altogether, we need to limit Americans' exposure to its harmful pollution every way we can," said Richardson. “We'll continue to work with our allies to keep fracking waste off barges and rivers altogether."

This piece was updated Feb. 24 to clarify that fracking waste could still be shipped by barge on a case-by-case basis.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Sea Levels Rising at Fastest Rate in 3,000 Years

The Biggest Oil Leak You've Never Heard Of, Still Leaking After 12 Years

Massive Methane Leaks From Texas Fracking Sites Even More Significant Than Infamous Porter Ranch Gas Leak

Stanford Scientist Finds People Living Near Shallow Fracking Wells at Risk of Drinking Water Contaminated With Methane

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New pine trees grow from the forest floor along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western boundary of Glacier National Park on Sept. 16, 2019 near West Glacier, Montana. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Alex Kirby

New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.

Read More
Household actions lead to changes in collective behavior and are an essential part of social movements. Pixabay / Pexels

By Greg McDermid, Joule A Bergerson, Sheri Madigan

Hidden among all of the troubling environmental headlines from 2019 — and let's face it, there were plenty — was one encouraging sign: the world is waking up to the reality of climate change.

So now what?

Read More
Sponsored
Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More