Even Without Exemption from the Halliburton Loophole, It's Still Not Regulated
SkyTruth has concluded that diesel fuels continue to be used in hydraulic fracturing despite known health hazards and in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Analyzing a database of voluntary industry disclosures, we found that kerosene and diesel fuels #1 and #2 were used on 448 separate occasions in 12 states between January 2011 and August 2012.
When Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it included the now-infamous "Halliburton Loophole," a controversial clause that excluded nearly everything used in fracking from being regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, in spite of Congress exempting an entire Pandora's Box of chemicals and additives to be injected at high-pressure into the ground, diesel fuels remained off-limits, as seen in Section 322 of the Act:
SEC. 322. HYDRAULIC FRACTURING.
Paragraph (1) of section 1421(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)) is amended to read as follows:
‘‘(1) UNDERGROUND INJECTION.—The term ‘underground injection’—
‘‘(A) means the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection; and
‘‘(i) the underground injection of natural gas for
purposes of storage; and
‘‘(ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping
agents (other than diesel fuels)pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.’’.
For the full text click here.
Naturally, with all of the toxic chemicals being allowed by this exemption, one has to wonder what is so bad about diesel fuels to explicitly exclude them from this otherwise blank check? The reason is the toxicity of the volatile aromatic compounds benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (also known as BTEX), which are known to the State of Maryland and many other agencies to cause respiratory problems from acute exposure (usually in occupational settings), in the long term to have toxic effects on the kidney, liver and blood, and benzene specifically has been classified by the U.S. EPA as a carcinogen. Not only do these health hazards raise concern about injection through groundwater supplies to shale layers deep beneath the earth, but also air transmission through flaring and fugitive emissions.
Now, when we searched our database for diesel fuels, we used the U.S. EPA's own draft designation for regulating diesel fuels, a list of six unique types of petroleum distillates that industry would have to seek a permit for to use in future fracking. Kerosene, (Chemical Abstract Service [CAS] # 8008-20-6) was the most used, a total of 278 times, although only four reports explain its purpose. Three reports in Alaska identified its purpose as a freeze inhibitor, one in Texas listed its purpose as a corrosion inhibitor, but all the rest listed no explanation for its use.
We wondered why kerosene was identified by the U.S. EPA as a diesel fuel, so I found a paper identifying kerosene as a hydrocarbon chain with 8-15 carbon atoms, well within the 8-21 carbon atom chain that identifies diesel fuel in general. That particular paper was written to determine how petroleum distillate contamination in groundwater could be detected. Given that the authors found total BTEX values from kerosene contaminated water were even higher (2440 µg/l) than than that of diesel fuel (2140 µg/l) and fuel oil (1400 µg/l), I believe it fully deserves its place on our list as a petroleum distillate too dangerous to frack with.
Back to our analysis, diesel fuel #2 (CAS # 68476-34-6) was in second place, used 166 times across 11 states. This time a wide range of uses were listed, mainly with some reference to acting as a gelling agent. The final diesel fuel we identified in our database was diesel fuel #1, which only appeared four times with no defined purpose.
However, this is not the first time fracking with diesel fuel has been brought up as an issue. In January of 2011, three legislators from the House of Representatives sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. EPA, regarding their investigation on diesel fuels' use in fracking between 2005 and 2009. Representatives Henry A. Waxman, Edward J. Markey and Diana DeGette found that while the public and legislature had been led to believe that this practice had ceased even before the passage of the Energy Policy Act, "oil and gas service companies injected 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel or hydraulic fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel in wells in 19 states."
The representatives' report did not state how many separate incidents they documented, only the volume, and while our database does not reliably calculate weight (due to limitations in the data source), we are certain that diesel fuels are still being used in fracking.
However, despite wide-spread assumption that industry had stopped using it in 2005 (on account of no permits being issued), there is another actor who bears responsibility for this continued disregard of the law: the U.S. EPA.
Note that earlier we said our analysis was conducted based on the fuels identified for regulation and permitting by the U.S. EPA's draft guidelines on this issue. The act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Aug. 8, 2005, and the draft was only published to comment in May of 2012. Industry has not sought or received permits for using diesel fuel in fracking, in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, because the U.S. EPA does not yet have the framework to process such requests.
The frequency of diesel fuels' use in fracking, according to voluntary industry reports, appears to be on the overall decline. However, this information is not complete, as reports are not timely (check back soon for more on this subject), and reporting on this same issue by Energy and Environment Reporter Mike Sorgahan found that companies can go back and modify reports. We intend to keep a close eye on this issue in the coming months as the record is filled out.
Nevertheless, the ongoing disregard for the Safe Drinking Water Act is unacceptable, and must be addressed as soon as possible by both industry and our government regulators. The list of toxic chemicals exempted by the Halliburton Loophole is staggering, but to find that the one item still restricted is nonetheless being used without regulation or consequence is unacceptable.
Furthermore, we believe that access to the data which we used to conduct this analysis is far too complicated and legally restricted to serve the purpose of full disclosure. We will be writing more in the near future about the challenges we have encountered to even reach the point were we can conduct analyses of industry activity and point out these glaring problems.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
Read more about SkyTruth's analysis on fracking: PART I: What 20 Months of Water Consumption for Fracking in the U.S. Looks Like and PART II: Underwater Park—A Visualization of 20 Months of Frackwater in NYC.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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