EWG Urges Bureau of Land Management to Strengthen Fracking Regulations

Environmental Working Group is urging the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to strengthen its proposed regulation on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for gas or oil on federal lands. In formal comments submitted this week (Aug. 22), EWG warned federal regulators that the proposed rule has many shortcomings and will not ensure that public mineral resources are developed safely and responsibly.

The highlights of EWG’s comments include:

  • Overly narrow scope. The regulations do not cover acidizing and other well-stimulation techniques that do not fit BLM’s precise definition of hydraulic fracturing but may well pose similar risks.
  • Inadequate chemical disclosure provisions. The Bureau’s proposed regulations will not ensure meaningful public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. The provisions also give drilling companies far too much leeway to hide important information behind “trade secret” claims.
  • Weak standards for evaluating well integrity. The agency’s standards for evaluating the integrity of the cement bonding in wells do not adequately manage the risks to groundwater posed by hydraulic fracturing.
  • Failure to ban wastewater storage pits. The proposed rule would allow drillers to store the toxic wastewater associated with hydraulic fracturing in on-site pits. These pits create the potential for hazardous substances to leach into the surrounding environment and water supplies, endangering public health, wildlife, and air, soil and water quality.

EWG’s comments are available here.

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