The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to make the wrong decision at every turn when it comes to protecting the environment and human health. From its unholy alliance with Monsanto – which has led to the dousing of American croplands with cancer-causing glyphosate – to raising the limit on radioactive elements in drinking water by a staggering 3,000 times, the EPA has proven time and time again that it cannot be relied upon to do its job.
In the latest example of its complete lack of commitment to protecting the environment, the EPA has continued to allow gas and oil companies to dump wastewater and chemicals generated by offshore fracking activities directly into the Gulf of Mexico.
What is offshore fracking?
Waking Times explains the controversial process of offshore fracking:
Offshore fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at extremely high pressure into undersea wells to break up rock and sand formations and clear pathways for oil and gas. Offshore drillers also treat wells with corrosive acids, such as hydrochloric acid, in a process known as “acidizing.”
The technologies have been used hundreds of times to enhance oil and gas production at hundreds of Gulf wells in recent years, and environmentalists say use of the technology could increase in the future as the industry seeks to maximize production in aging offshore fields.
The EPA has drafted a plan to continue allowing the dumping of harmful chemicals generated by this process into the Gulf, ignoring the potentially devastating impact on marine animals and water quality.
Environmentalists claim that the EPA is basing its decision on “severely outdated data.”
“The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico,” noted Kristen Monsell, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.”
A violation of the Clean Water Act
The Center for Biological Diversity is well known for leveraging legal action to halt pollution and force the government to adhere to environmental regulations, with successful lawsuits already resulting in a temporary halt on offshore fracking in the Pacific Ocean.
Now, the Center is turning its attention to stopping the dumping of toxic chemicals generated by offshore fracking in the Gulf of Mexico, labeling it a violation of the Clean Water Act.
The EPA and other environmental regulators insist that offshore fracking operations have a good safety record. Nonetheless, environmentalists are gravely concerned about the effects of the chemicals used in these operations on marine wildlife in the area, many of which are still reeling from the effects of the 2010 BP oil spill.
Waking Times reported:
Under the EPA’s current and draft permits, offshore drillers are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of fracking and acidizing chemicals overboard as long as they are mixed with the wastewater that returns from undersea wells. Oil and gas platforms dumped more than 75 billion gallons of these “produced waters” directly into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone, according to the Center’s analysis of EPA records.
Although offshore fracking companies have to ensure that there is no oil in the wastewater and that certain toxicity standards are met, the water only has to be tested a few times each year. The tests can therefore easily be manipulated because they can be conducted at a time when there are very few fracking chemicals in the wastewater.
The EPA insists that the large volumes of seawater these chemicals are pumped into will sufficiently dilute them and prevent any long-term toxicity, but environmentalists warn that this assumption is based on outdated research from the 1980s and 1990s, when fracking activities were minimal.
Once again, the EPA has proved that it really is the Environmental Pollution Agency and cannot be relied upon to protect our environment.
Learn more at FrackingWatch.com.
Sources for this article include: