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🗳️ "Why EPA Allows PFAS In Fracking Liquids"

Water Nerds

Photo by Brad Weaver / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Analies Ross-Dyjak | Head of Policy & Perspectives | Hydroviv
Category: 🗳️ Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:18] “In 2011, EPA approved the use of PFAS chemicals in the fracking industry. […] PFAS [is a] category of chemicals, also known as forever chemicals. There are thousands that have been produced historically, and are being produced and are in the environment across the entire world. And so these chemicals were used in […] anything that really repels water and other liquids.”

[1:10] “Certain PFAS are no longer being produced. They've been phased out, because of their toxicity and potential to cause cancer in humans. So even though some have been phased out, a lot are still impacting the environment in really negative ways.”

[1:48] “Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a type of oil shale and natural gas extraction, where water and chemicals and sand are pumped into the ground horizontally to kind of push out any trapped oil and gas. […] The pipes […] can go for 4 miles in each direction. […] And the reason that that is significant is because the contamination is so much more widespread than just in that one area […]. And it's a lot of area for a fracking company to kind of keep track of and look after, and a lot of it goes unchecked.”

[3:30] “Fracking is one of, if not the, least regulated energy industries in the US. Fracking is exempt from a lot of the same regulations and reporting requirements that other industries are held to. […] And the reason that fracking has such lacks regulations, really has to do with this phenomenon called the Halliburton Loophole. Vice President Dick Cheney called to Congress to make sure that the fracking industry was going to be protected, that the fracking industry could continue to grow and that there wouldn't be all of these government loopholes that they would have to jump through. And so, essentially, Vice President Cheney’s […] mission came to fruition.”

[4:51] “Congress passed this law that exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is really troublesome. And the irony of all of this is that Vice President Cheney was the CEO of one of the largest fracking companies in the US called Halliburton. He was the CEO before becoming vice president. This really rattled people in Washington […], but the Halliburton loophole still exists. Fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

[6:02] “There are quite literally thousands of chemicals that are used in the fracking process, and each has a different […] very important job, that is the reason that fracking is such a successful industry. These chemicals range from acids, which are used to break down minerals and kind of clear the way for this oil and natural gas to proceed out. And then there are things like corrosion inhibitors, which are used to make sure that the steel isn't being damaged as the oil and natural gas is also being pumped out.”

[6:53] “Corrosion inhibitors, acids, […] are also really bad chemicals. So what makes PFAS different? Why is it such a big deal that EPA approved PFAS? And there are two really major reasons why this is so problematic. And the first is that PFAS are extremely persistent in the environment […]. So they can travel through soil and water for miles and miles without breaking down […]. And the second is that scientists knew that PFAS were dangerous and potentially could cause cancer, before approving them in 2011. The phase out actually started in 2005 of PFAS chemicals. So industries recognized that these contaminants could be dangerous, […] but then 6 years later, EPA [went] ahead and approve[d] these chemicals to be used in fracking. […] We've all seen the videos of people lighting their tap water on fire, when they live near fracking areas.”

[9:49] “In the oil and natural gas industry, [PFAS] are extremely hydrophobic, so that means that they were used to help separate the oil and gas from other properties. And so that made extreme financial sense for these industries, because it's just one less thing that they have to do when refining the oil and natural gas. So it [is] an extreme cost saving measure for them and it […] is really effective.”

[11:26] “Once [PFAS] are in our water, there's really no feasible way to remove it at the municipal level, […] so at a treatment plan level. […] Sometimes our agencies that protect human health and the environment […] get it wrong. And so it's really important to advocate for more stringent regulations and protections on keeping yourself and your family safe.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Google
🕰️ 13 min | 🗓️ 09/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 11 min

Additional Links:
Hydroviv Blog: “EPA Approved Harmful PFAS Chemicals For Fracking 9 Years After Toxicity Was Understood”