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February 23, 2012

EPA to Look at Earthquake Risks from Fracking Wells

GasAfter several earthquakes in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arkansas being linked to natural gas fracking wells and wastewater injection wells, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently that it will look into these seismic risks.

Wastewater injection wells are where the natural gas industry takes their salty, hazardous byproduct (or produced water) of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) and injects it into the ground. 

According to Inside EPA:

The move may fall short of environmentalists' calls for EPA to reverse a long-standing regulatory exemption excluding oil and gas wastewater from the definition of hazardous waste in an effort to force stricter regulation of the disposal practice.

In particular, activists had urged EPA to reverse its 1988 determination that most drilling wastes, including produced water, should be exempt from subtitle C hazardous waste rules under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). 

The Sierra Club’s Natural Gas Reform Campaign is active in this push for EPA to close this loophole for the natural gas industry.

The natural gas industry already takes advantage of many loopholes – including being exempt from aspects of the Safe Water Drinking Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act – which allow it to profit at the expense of local communities’ public health, water quality, and more. Now on top of all that, its activities are causing earthquakes.

EPA must take a stand and enact strong safeguards for the natural gas drilling to in order to protect Americans.

-- Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club Natural Gas Reform Campaign

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