Would you like some fossil fuels with your fossil fuels? How about some diesel on the side along with that fracking fluid toxic cocktail? Yes, you read that correctly. I bet you didn’t know that diesel is yet another chemical additive injected into the ground by fracking companies.
The use of diesel is generally bad. But it is highly concerning when used for fracking because it contains benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (commonly known as BTEX chemicals). Benzene, a known carcinogen, can lead to cancer, leukemia, and bone marrow failure after long term exposure. Toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene can severely damage the central nervous system. All of this risks entering nearby waterways. With so many health and environmental concerns popping up in states that rushed to drill, why would we add fuel – quite literally – to the fire?
To be clear: the fracking industry has many exemptions from the Clean Drinking Water Act (known as the Halliburton Loophole); however diesel is not one of these exemptions, in part because of a 2004 study from the EPA that found that “use of diesel fuel in fracturing fluids poses the greatest threat” to underground sources of drinking water. Diesel has been used in fracking operations for years, but it wasn’t until February of 2014 that the EPA finally stood up to the plate to regulate its usage.
A report released by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) in August of 2014, revealed that at least 33 different companies violated the Clean Drinking Water Act by using diesel fuel in fracking at least 351 wells without permits.
Is this New York’s future?
The current New York SGEIS (created in 2011, and which would regulate fracking should it be approved) does not prohibit, or regulate, the use of diesel or BTEX chemicals. Here at Environmental Advocates we know we aren’t the only New Yorkers thinking “who would ever trust these companies”? Numerous polls have showed that New Yorkers are in favor of the State’s moratorium on fracking and people don’t want fracking where it’d be most likely to take place.
The industry isn’t being held accountable. But there are obviously places to start, which is why we signed on, along with numerous other organizations, to a letter drafted by EIP to the EPA asking the EPA to fully investigate the fracking companies that have been using diesel without a permit and have altered what chemicals they are disclosing.
With more and more studies coming out, like the one from EIP, showing how the industry has skirted the law, contaminated water, and harmed peoples health, New Yorkers know fracking isn’t everything the industry cracks it up to be.
Last I checked, solar and wind energy doesn’t pollute our water. Have you ever heard about cleaning up after a solar spill? Instead of New York becoming a fossil fuel state, how about we invest more in clean, green, renewable energy?