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article imageReport finds some fracking using diesel without permit

By Martin Laine     Aug 15, 2014 in Environment
An investigation by an environmental watchdog group has found that some fracking operations are using diesel fuel without a permit, as required by federal law. Industry groups, and at least one state regulatory agency, dispute the findings.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process used to extract oil and natural gas from shale deposits deep below the surface by injecting a mix of water and chemicals at high pressure. Because diesel fuel, which also includes kerosene, is a known carcinogen, a federal permit is required before it can be used in fracking, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to the Environmental Protection Agency website.
In a 21-page report issued Wednesday by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), investigators found that 32,950 gallons of diesel had been illegally injected in the period between 2001 and 2014, mostly in Texas, where 12,808 gallons were injected, and Colorado with 9,173 gallons injected.
EIP is a Washington-based group founded in 2002 by former EPA enforcement attorneys.
“This is a dangerous practice. It needs to stop. It is illegal without a permit,” said Mary Greene, EIP’s senior managing attorney, who carried out the study, according to an article in the Denver Post.
Several companies and industry groups disputed the findings.
The group Energy in Depth claimed many of the fracking operations identified in the report used kerosene, not diesel. The two are chemically nearly identical, and the EPA recognizes no difference between the two.
Energy in Depth also claimed many had permits from state regulators, and so were not operating illegally — though the federal law makes no provision making a state permit as a legitimate alternative.
In Arkansas, where fracking is a major industry, the director of the state Oil and Gas Commission said the report is flawed and there is no need for concern.
“There’s four layers of protections keeping the well fluids or whatever is in the well from the fresh water,” said commission director Lawrence Bengal in an article on the Talk Politics & Business website. “So I have no concern at all that there’s any reason to believe that contamination could have occurred.”
And in Colorado, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission declined to comment on the report until they had a chance to study it further.
More about Fracking, Safe drinking water, Diesel
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