Drilling companies injected more than 32 million gallons of fluids containing diesel into the ground during hydraulic fracturing operations from 2005 to 2009, according to federal lawmakers. About a third of the 32 million gallons was straight diesel fuel, with 49.8% of the 32.2 million gallons of fluid containing diesel injected into Texas wells. Texas lead the 19 states using diesel as a fracking fluid, followed by Oklahoma at 10% of the 32.2 million gallons.
Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling technique that involves pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into underground formations to release greater quantities of gas and oil. The technique dates back several decades, but it has drawn new scrutiny from the public and regulators as its use has grown in recent years.
Concerns include the potential for the chemicals to get into drinking water or for natural gas to migrate into water wells. While the industry says that such an incident rarely happens and can easily be avoided, some homeowners near Fort Worth would probably wouldn’t buy that claim.
Most hydraulic fracturing fluid uses water as its primary component, but in formations where water is absorbed too easily – such as in certain kinds of clay – diesel is used as an additive.
The EPA and industry agreed in 2003 that diesel wouldn’t be used in hydraulic fracturing jobs in coal bed methane formations, because drilling in those formations tends to be closer to drinking water sources. At this time, none of the companies that used diesel as a fracking fluid could provide data on whether they performed hydraulic fracturing in or near underground sources of drinking water.
Lawmakers are asking the EPA to look at diesel use in its study into the safety of hydraulic fracturing.
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