Issue Date: October 31, 2011
EPA To Regulate Shale Gas Waste
EPA plans to develop national standards for disposal of wastewater discharged from shale gas drilling activities, including hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” After gathering input from industry and public health groups, EPA will propose a Clean Water Act rule establishing technology-based standards for pretreatment of water from shale gas wells going to municipal treatment plants for final processing and discharge. Some of the chemicals in fracking fluids are carcinogens, says Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law firm. EPA’s action will “help keep poisons out of our rivers, streams, and drinking water,” she says. But America’s Natural Gas Alliance says wastewater disposal is already “actively regulated at the state level.” Meanwhile, in an attempt to address the controversy over the nature of fracking fluid, the Marcellus Shale Coalition has agreed to voluntarily disclose the identity of the chemicals used in the drilling process. The companies that make up the coalition will list the chemicals on FracFocus.org, an online database that discloses fracturing fluid compositions on a well-by-well basis.
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