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EPA Approved Exxon's 'Forever Chemicals' for Fracking in 2011

Fracking
A fracking rig in the Marcellus Shale.
A fracking rig in the Marcellus Shale near Waynesburg, Pennsylvania in 2012. MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved dangerous chemicals that break down into PFAS for use in fracking in 2011, according to records obtained by Physicians for Social Responsibility and reported by The New York Times.


Despite EPA scientists having identified preliminary evidence the carcinogenic, and birth-defect-linked substances could degrade into those "forever chemicals" and persist in the environment where it will "be toxic to people, wild mammals, and birds," the agency approved their use in fracking.

Records show Chemours (née Dupont) filed to use the chemical, though by 2015 Dupont had acknowledged the dangers and agreed to phase out certain PFAS chemicals. While there is no record of where exactly the chemicals have been used, another database of fracking chemicals set up by the industry, FracFocus, indicates at least 120 companies used the chemicals in more than 1,000 wells over the last decade.

ExxonMobil told The New York Times, "We do not manufacture PFAS," but the company's lobbyist was recently caught on tape admitting that not only does the company manufacture the forever chemicals that "stay in the environment forever," making "probably a few hundred million [dollars]" off of it, but they also covertly lobbied to keep it legal through front groups because once "it becomes 'the ExxonMobil chemical'" then people will talk about how "'ExxonMobil is poisoning our waterways,'" and at that point, he said, "the debate's pretty much over."

For a deeper dive:

The New York Times

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