California’s Fracking Fluids

The Chemical Recipe

August 12, 2015

California’s Fracking Fluids: Conclusions

As a result of lack of regulation and official negligence, the oil and gas industry has been able to claim that fracking fluid and recovered wastewater do not threaten and have never polluted drinking water, but that claim is no longer credible. We now know incontrovertibly that chemicals from fracking fluid and wastewater have contaminated drinking water in locations across the country.

To date, however, state and federal officials have been incapable or unwilling under existing regulations to place protection of public health ahead of the wishes of the oil and gas industry. Although California now probably has the nation’s most stringent regulations for fracking and the most comprehensive disclosure requirements of the chemicals used, those measures have not been enough to ensure that sources of drinking and agricultural water are safe from contamination. Stronger actions are needed.

EWG recommends:

  • California should take steps to further regulate the dangerous chemicals used in fracking. An assessment of whether less harmful alternatives can replace the chemicals now in use is urgently needed.
  • All citizens, and especially those living near fracking operations, have a right to understand the risks. Chemical safety data sheets should be submitted and posted along with the chemical disclosures on the website of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and made available to residents adjacent to fracking operations. Nationally, chemicals used in fracking should be disclosed in a transparent program similar to California’s SB 4 program.
  • There is a severe lack of data on the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources in California and nationally. The state should support the recommendations for groundwater monitoring in areas of oil and gas well stimulation and properly enforce the model criteria for the regional groundwater- monitoring program developed under SB 4. This program should serve as a model for a national program to collect groundwater- monitoring data.
  • The state must immediately stop the illegal injection of wastewater into potential sources of drinking or agricultural water.
  • Integration of renewable energy sources is sorely needed. California must make clean energy a priority for the long term instead of relying on fossil fuels and dangerous practices using harmful chemicals.