Environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to try to compel better regulation of waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing.
The groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Environmental Integrity Project, said regulations are about 30 years overdue to address potential groundwater contamination, earthquakes and other problems associated with fracking waste.
Use of the technique has increased dramatically in recent years, bringing with it the high volumes of fluids that can be used to treat roads, injected underground or stored in tanks.
“Each well now generates millions of gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of solid wastes, and yet EPA’s inaction has kept the most basic, inadequate rules in place,” Adam Kron, an attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement Wednesday.
Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance; San Juan Citizens Alliance; West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization; and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice are also participating in the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The EPA is prohibited from regulating fracking, except in a few limited circumstances, under a 2005 law.
The groups specifically want a court-ordered deadline by which the EPA must make final new rules on fracking waste disposal.
“Right now, companies can get rid of their toxic mess in any number of dangerous ways — from spraying it on icy roads, to sending it to landfills with our everyday household trash, to injecting it underground where it can endanger drinking water and trigger earthquakes,” Amy Mall, senior policy adviser at the NRDC, said in the statement.
“EPA must step in and protect our communities and drinking water from the carcinogens, radioactive material and other dangerous substances that go hand-in-hand with oil and gas waste.”