President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
My name is __ and I live at __ .
I write because __.
During your administration, High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking) expanded dramatically across America. This natural gas and oil extraction process has caused unprecedented toxic hazards because it is not regulated on a comprehensive basis in order to safeguard public health and the environment.
While federal authority is limited regarding regulating the actual process of shale fracking, you enjoy ample authority to regulate disposal of the immense quantities of highly toxic and radioactive wastewaters generated by fracking.
That is why I respectfully request that you ban five outmoded and toxic-polluting oil and natural gas wastewater disposal methods associated with both fracking and conventional petroleum extraction. These historic practices should have been halted decades ago.
Shale Fracking in America
Shale fracking is the most controversial, environmentally devastating and least regulated oil and gas extraction technique in America. Due to fracking, America became the biggest producer of oil and natural gas in the world as scientific studies further documented how fossil fuels contribute to global climate change.
Fracking pumps millions of gallons of highly pressurized water into wells drilled horizontally through shale formations. This process cracks the rock and releases oil and natural gas contained in tiny pores. Fracking a single shale well generates huge quantities of highly toxic "flowback" and "produced" wastewater.
Fracking and conventional oil and gas extraction wastewaters are contaminated with toxic metals, radioactive elements, dissolved solids and organic chemicals, including benzene, naphthalene, xylene, toluene, tetrachloroethylene, barium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, sodium, radium-226 and radium-228.
See: Unconventional Oil And Gas Extraction Wastewater Volumes And Characteristics
Improper fracking wastewater disposal has caused unprecedented contamination problems across the country. Historic toxic-polluting oil and gas extraction wastewater disposal practices have the potential to cause irreparable harm to public health and the environment in more than half the states in the nation.
See fracking oil and gas extraction maps for PA, OH, CO, MI, OK and CA.
Unprecedented Fracking Wastewater Pollution Hazards
During the early days of the U.S. shale fracking boom in 2008, fracking wastewater was discharged into Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) in western Pennsylvania which were neither designed, constructed nor maintained to break down or remove toxic pollutants and dissolved solids in the wastewater.
The pollutants "passed through" into the Monongahela River. As a result, 850,000 residents near Pittsburgh could not drink water drawn from that waterbody during the biggest drinking water pollution crisis in U.S. history.
See: 2008 Shale Fracking Monongahela River Drinking Water Crisis
New EPA Ban on Fracking Wastewater Dumping in POTWs
Disclosure of the Monongahela incident prompted the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to initiate a regulatory proceeding which imposed a nationwide ban on fracking wastewater dumping into POTWs on 6/28/16.
See: Final rule: Federal Register Notice (PDF)
EPA Authority to Regulate Fracking and Conventional Petroleum Extraction Wastewater Disposal
EPA has broad authority to regulate improper conventional and fracking wastewater disposal pursuant to the U. S. Safe Drinking Water Act and the U. S. Clean Water Act, but has failed to do so on a comprehensive basis.
EPA's POTW fracking wastewater ban sets a critical precedent for safeguarding public health and the environment from toxic-polluting oil and gas extraction wastewater disposal practices that should have been banned decades ago.
With that goal in mind, I request that you take immediate urgent action to ban on all toxic-polluting oil and natural gas fracking and extraction wastewater disposal practices including, but not limited to:
1. Deep-well injection which can pollute underground drinking water sources and cause earthquakes as reported in Ohio, Oklahoma and other states;
2. Agricultural crop irrigation and livestock watering west of the 98th Meridian West with wastewater containing up to 35 parts per million of potentially toxic oil/grease pollutants;
3. Landspreading for de-icing, dust control and roadbed stabilization which can contaminate soils and surface waters;
4. "Recycling" of contaminated wastewater for fracking purposes that can pollute underground drinking water sources; and
5. Recharge and evaporation pits, ponds and lagoons which can pollute groundwater.
With all respect, it would be irresponsible of you to leave office without resolving the inadequate regulation of natural gas and oil extraction wastewater disposal that is causing irreparable contamination hazards all over the nation. I request that you take swift action in the coming days to address this concern.
If you do not fulfill my request, you would be responsible for future fracking wastewater hazards that could have been prevented.
Thank you for your consideration and your public service.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may answer your questions or clarify my request.
Very truly yours,
cc: Honorable Judith Enck
Governor Andrew Cuomo