Environmental groups sue EPA, seek stricter fracking waste rules

A coalition of community and environmental organisations have filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding stronger rules for fracking waste disposal. They want regulators to issue […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A coalition of community and environmental organisations have filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding stronger rules for fracking waste disposal.

They want regulators to issue rules that address problems including the disposal of fracking wastewater in underground injection wells “which accept hundreds of millions of gallons of oil and gas wastewater”. They claim the process has been linked to earthquakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

The want the EPA to set regulations that stop oil and gas companies from disposing and handling drilling and fracking waste in ways that threaten public health and the environment.

The groups, including Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Earthworks, are calling on the District Court for the District of Columbia to set strict deadlines for EPA to comply with its “long overdue” obligations to update waste disposal rules.

Amy Mall, Senior Policy Analyst at NRDC said: “Waste from the oil and gas industry is very often toxic and should be treated that way. Right now, companies can get rid of their toxic mess in any number of dangerous ways – from spraying it on icy roads, to sending it to landfills with our everyday household trash, to injecting it underground where it can endanger drinking water and trigger earthquakes.

“The EPA must step in and protect our communities and drinking water from the carcinogens, radioactive material and other dangerous substances that go hand-in-hand with oil and gas waste.”

The organisations are also urging EPA to ban the practice of spreading fracking wastewater onto roads or fields and require landfills and ponds that receive drilling and fracking waste to be built with adequate liners to prevent spills and leaks into groundwater and streams.

The EPA told a news outlet it “does not comment on pending litigation”.

Last week a survey from the UK Government revealed a fall in public support for fracking.