Fracking With Diesel

Take Action To Protect Rivers From Diesel Contamination
From Fracking

Tell the EPA that you support restricting the use of diesel in fracking by July 9th!

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been developing permitting guidance for hydraulic fracturing operations using diesel. The guidance will be the first federal policy focused on protecting drinking water sources from fracking. 

For the most part, natural gas operations are exempt from federal environmental laws.  However, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) exempts hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) “… except when diesel fuel is used.” 

When legislators were debating the EPAct, concern about potential contamination of underground sources of drinking water when diesel is used in hydraulic fracturing were raised, leading to this exception being written into the law. 

At the time, industry representatives claimed that diesel was no longer used in hydraulic fracturing operations, but there is increasing evidence that the use of diesel remains widespread.  In early 2011, an investigation by members of the U.S. House of Representatives found that drilling service companies injected over 30 million gallons of diesel underground during hydraulic fracturing between 2005 and 2009.

Injecting diesel underground is problematic because of the toxic chemicals it contains, especially the “BTEX” compounds.  “BTEX” refers to benzene, tolulene, ethylbenzene and xylene. These chemicals are linked to numerous adverse health effects including cancer, kidney and liver problems and nervous system damage. They are toxic at very low levels and are soluble in water, which is of particular concern when injecting them into the ground in proximity to underground sources of drinking water.


In their guidance, we would like EPA to:

  • Ban the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing.  Concern about diesel use in this method of gas extraction is warranted.  The Department of Energy Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Shale Gas Subcommittee found that, in light of these risks and the available alternatives, “there is no technical or economic reason to use diesel as a stimulating fluid.” [Natural Gas Subcommittee, First 90-day interim report, (August 18, 2011) [PDF]]
  • If use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing is not banned, EPA should publish final Guidance and initiate formal rulemaking to put in place the strictest possible requirements in order to protect underground sources of drinking water.  A formal rulemaking would give the protections the full force of the law.  Because hydraulic fracturing operations using diesel are covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act, a rule with the force of law is appropriate and necessary.


Tell the EPA that you support restricting the use of diesel in fracking by July 9th.