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Lawmakers Seek Diesel Requirements for Fracking

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Fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale, has the potential to leave the environment decimated and human and animal health vulnerable to a host of deadly diseases, including cancer. Proponents claim that fracking for natural gas will improve the economy and reduce our reliance on foreign energy.

Fracking—formally known as hydraulic fracturing—is a process in which a high-pressure injection of water, sand, and chemicals are shot into shale to release it of gas and oil deposits. Environmentalists claim the process poses risks to natural drinking water sources when naturally occurring hazardous substances are released and from toxic fracking fluids and wastewater leaks and spills.

Earlier this year, a Congressional investigation concluded that drilling service companies have injected millions of gallons of diesel fuel underground during fracking, reports NewsInferno. A 2010 Environmental Working Group (EWG) report also found that much fracking used diesel fuel without proper permits. Speaking to a Senate panel earlier this , a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official said that natural gas and oil drillers that frack without appropriate agency permits are breaking the law, explained NewsInferno.

Now, four Congressional Democrats are urging the EPA to list and describe diesel fuel elements that contain the carcinogen benzene and other toxic chemicals in its guidance for fracking, wrote Platts. Representatives Henry Waxman of California, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Diana DeGette of Colorado, and Rush Holt of New Jersey made the request in a letter issued yesterday to EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson.

The letter, which can be accessed at the Democrats’ site for The Committee on Energy & Commerce, http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?q=news/democratic-leaders-underscore-significance-of-epa-s-diesel-fuel-definition-in-upcoming-hydrauli, said, in part, that “The 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act unless the fluid injected contains diesel fuel.” Because of this, said the Democrats, how the EPA defines diesel fuel has “far-reaching consequences.” The group asked the agency to “adopt a definition of ‘diesel fuel’ that is broad enough to protect human health and to address the specific reason why Congress singled out diesel fuel in the law—because it often contains benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (the BTEX compounds).”

Of note, the letter points out that, in 2004, the EPA said “uses of diesel fuel in fracturing fluids poses the greatest threat” to underground sources of drinking water.”

No current federal law mandates public disclosure for fracking fluids, note the Democrats, making fracking, with the many toxins involved, potentially dangerous with far-reaching and long-term effects.

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