Update: Last week, 8 of 9 natural gas drilling companies provided EPA with data on their fracking fluids. Halliburton was the only company that refused, and EPA was forced to issue a subpoena. Instead, Halliburton announced this week a public website that will vaguely disclose some chemicals—but very likely not all—and would do so only for "typical" wells, not specific wells that are actually near people's homes.
It's all a nice start, but it’s not good enough. The letter to Halliburton is now edited to reflect these recent updates, but pushing them to do better. EPA should not have to subpoena their data and people have the right to know exactly which toxic chemicals are near their homes. Read more about the latest news here.
The practice of hydraulic fracturing, a dangerous natural gas drilling technique, is tied to thousands of cases of drinking water contamination around the nation. "Fracking," as it's otherwise called, involves gas companies injecting hundreds of chemicals into the ground at high-pressure as they attempt to force natural gas from hard rock.
Wells are exploding and tap water is lighting on fire. Watch Gasland if you don't believe it.
Yet, thanks to their friend Dick Cheney, gas companies are exempted from any regulation—including requirements to publicly disclose the chemicals they are using—under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In a 2005 energy bill, Cheney, a former Halliburton executive, personally pushed through what became known as the "Halliburton loophole," which won fracking companies this exemption.
There is now a huge push to reverse this monumental mistake. Wyoming recently became the first state to force fracking companies such as Halliburton to disclose the chemicals they use. Meanwhile, EPA has requested that the companies voluntarily tell them the secret brew—but the agency is also legally bound the protect the industry's "trade secrets" as it completes a 2-year study of fracking risks.
Activists say public disclosure is a critical first step towards better understanding, regulating and reducing the risks of fracking, and the public doesn't want to wait years while EPA completes its study to know what may be in their water.
There are many gas companies that need to disclose their chemicals, but Halliburton—which so famously had Cheney do its dirty work for years—may as well be the one to get the ball rolling. If one company revealed its chemicals, others would likely feel immense pressure to follow.
The momentum for better disclosure is strong. Please sign this petition to tell Halliburton to not wait until EPA or Congress or all of the states have to force their hand. Halliburton should voluntarily tell the public what's in their fracking fluids.
- Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
I recently heard the news that you are launching a website with information to provide the public with information on chemicals that your company uses in “several typical" fracking wells, first in Pennsylvania and ultimately on a state-by-state basis.
That’s a nice start, but it’s not good enough. For one, there is no promise that toxic chemicals not used in a state’s “typical” well will be disclosed. And second, residents near fracking sites don’t care what pollutants are typically used in their state. They deserve to know exactly which toxins they need to look out for in their drinking water.
So does EPA. The agency charged with protecting our nation's environmental health should not be forced to subpoena your company to find out the chemicals you use, especially when 8 other natural gas drilling companies managed to comply.
Please tell EPA and the public exactly what is in the fracking well near them. Thank you,
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