EPA forced to subpoena Haliburton for fracking information

The Environmental Protection Agency reported Tuesday that eight out of nine companies engaged in the controversial and expanding natural gas industry practice of hydraulic fracturing agreed to submit information for a 2011 health study on the effects of what is commonly called “fracking.” Haliburton alone refused. The EPA reported it has issued the controversial company a subpoena requiring the information.

Haliburton's secret sauce

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that eight out of the nine hydraulic fracturing companies that received voluntary information requests in September have agreed to submit timely and complete information to help the agency conduct its study on hydraulic fracturing. However, the ninth company, Halliburton, has failed to provide EPA the information necessary to move forward with this important study. As a result, and as part of the agency’s effort to move forward as quickly as possible, today EPA issued a subpoena to the company requiring submission of the requested information that has yet to be provided.

EPA’s congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study will look at the potential adverse impact of the practice on drinking water and public health. The agency is under a tight deadline to provide initial results by the end of 2012 and the thoroughness of the study depends on timely access to detailed information about the methods used for fracturing. EPA announced in March that it would conduct this study and solicit input from the public through a series of public meetings in major oil and gas production regions. The agency has completed the public meetings and thousands of Americans from across the country shared their views on the study and expressed full support for this effort.

Oil and gas companies have been fracking gas-rich areas of Colorado for years, particularly Garfield County, and have drawn increasing heat from Colorado residents and environmental watchdogs who believe the practice is contaminating ground water.

Fracking involves shooting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals deep into the ground to loosen up and capture natural gas. Companies have closely guarded the chemical recipes they use in fracking, saying that the mixtures are proprietary and giving them up would give an advantage to competitors.

The EPA has already commenced work on fracking this year. It has conducted interviews of stakeholders over the last three months and is set to release a draft fracking study design in November. It will begin conducting the study in 2011 and deliver results by early 2012 on whether or not and to what extent hydraulic fracturing may be affecting drinking water.

Red Rock Pictures brought out the award-winning documentary Split Estate on fracking this year, part of which was filmed in Garfield County.

Hat tip David Dayen.

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