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 of the law, see here at the Government Publishing Office website.
Now, when we searched our database for diesel fuels, we used the EPA’s own draft designation for regulating diesel fuels, a list of 6 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 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.
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.