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Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale Formation Why regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act is needed.

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Presentation on theme: "Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale Formation Why regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act is needed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale Formation Why regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act is needed

2 Marcellus Shale Formation Massive rock formation of gas bearing shale located in Pennsylvania, southern New York, eastern Ohio, and northern West Virginia Estimated to provide enough shale gas to power the United States for more than two decades Largely untapped until technology called hydraulic fracturing developed

3 Hydraulic Fracturing Also known as “fracking” Machines inject highly pressurized water and mostly toxic chemicals into shale gas formations about a mile underground Cracks are created in shale that open small pores where the gas is trapped The freed gas rises to surface and is piped away Extraction process not without danger and environmental consequences. Currently is exempted from regulation under Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

4 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Enacted by Congress in 1974 Authorized states to create specific regulations to protect their underground drinking water sources Any state wanting their own regulatory regime must incorporate a plan to regulate industrial underground injection control (UIC) programs Most industrial extraction processes involve injection of “propping” agents use to pry open gaps in underground reservoirs Propping agents under UIC programs include sand, water, nitrogen, and diesel fuel EPA granted statutory exemption for hydraulic fracturing

5 Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing

6 Chemicals Used in Fracking Proprietary mix of up to 14 undisclosed chemicals Friction reducers to help mixture flow Rust prevention compounds Microorganism killing bactericides Methane and petroleum distillate blend

7 Points of Potential Contamination Flow back fluid can leak at well head Enormous pressures used in extraction can cause malfunctions at the surface Pipe bursting underground Well crossing pockets of methane allowing gas to rise up in borehole to groundwater Fluids are subject to spillage during transport Leaks from poorly built or unlined holding ponds

8 Negative Impacts Fracking discharge is accused of negatively in water quality in Virginia, Alabama, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and Pennsylvania Complaints from residents living near fracturing fields include greasy films in water, pungent odors, increased salinity, and even a rise in certain types of cancer Water flushing black or orange Water turning bubbly Elevated levels of metal and toluene (benzene derivative)

9 Regulation History Legal battle to regulate hydraulic fracturing began in 1997 over unregulated wells in Alabama and groundwater contamination 11 th Circuit Court held that hydraulic fracturing fit within definition of “underground injection which was already regulated through UIC programs EPA responded by conducting study from 2000-2004 that found injection of certain chemicals posed little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water In 2005, Congress exempted oil and gas industry from hydraulic fracking regulations Exemption know as Halliburton Loophole

10 Steps Toward Regulation New hydraulic fracturing study now underway by EPA EPA has sent voluntary information requests to nine leading national fracturing service providers requesting list of chemicals used Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act introduced in 2009 aimed at closing Halliburton Loophole and restoring EPA’s power to regulate Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act introduced in May 2010 calls for disclosure of chemicals used in fracking mix Local governments have written resolutions and letters supporting regulations under SDWA

11 Policy Formation Options include regulating under section 1425 of SDWA or require oil industry to use biodegradable fracturing fluids instead of toxic chemicals Section 1425 allows states to demonstrate their existing UIC programs are effective in preventing contamination of USDWs Regulate under Section I425 by declaring hydraulic fracturing wells to be Class II wells

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