The Environmental Protection Agency has subpoenaed energy company Halliburton for information on its natural gas drilling practices in places like the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania.
Halliburton and other companies drill for natural gas by fracturing underground rock formations and sucking out methane. This “fracking” process uses a mix of chemicals to crack the rock.
EPA is studying hazards the chemicals might pose to water supplies, and asked nine companies to disclose their fracking recipes. The Agency says Halliburton didn’t cooperate, so they got a subpoena.
A spokesperson for Halliburton wrote in an emailed statement, quote: “…the agency’s request was so broad, potentially requiring the company to prepare approximately 50,000 spreadsheets…”
Halliburton is one of dozens of companies tapping into Pennsylvania’s rich reserves of natural gas.
The state is a candidate sight for EPA’s study on fracking impacts.
Below are emailed statements and documents supplied to WHYY by the Environmental Protection Agency and Halliburton:
Statement EPA emailed to WHYY:Halliburton submitted copies of Material Safety Data Sheets, which are publicly available forms that generally describe the hazards associated with various chemical mixtures. While these are helpful, they do not identify each and every chemical in a mixture, which is precisely the sort of information EPA needs to understand the risks these chemical mixtures may pose to drinking water supplies. Given that vast quantities of fluids are used in every hydraulic fracturing job, it is important to know the identity of chemicals that may be present even in small percentages of the overall volume.Halliburton also submitted information in response to our request for information regarding health and environmental data. They have not stated whether this information is complete or whether they have additional information to send us in this category. We are now reviewing the information.However, EPA also asked for other information, including standard operating procedures the govern the choice and amount of chemicals and water in hydraulic fracturing jobs, along with locations of every hydraulic fracturing job undertaken in the previous year or planned for the next. Halliburton has not provided this information, nor has it committed unequivocally to providing any of this information in a timely manner. Given that EPA is expected to provide preliminary results by the close of 2012, we need this information now to effectively carry out the study that Congress requested.Thanks,Jalil IsaPress OfficerU.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Statement Halliburton emailed to WHYY:
Nov. 9, 2010 Halliburton has been working in good faith in an effort to respond to EPA’s September 2010 request for information on our hydraulic fracturing operations over a five-year period. Because the agency’s request was so broad, potentially requiring the company to prepare approximately 50,000 spreadsheets, we have met with the agency and had several additional discussions with EPA personnel in order to help narrow the focus of their unreasonable demands so that we could provide the agency what it needs to complete its study of hydraulic fracturing. We have turned over nearly 5,000 pages of documents as recently as last Friday, Nov. 5, 2010. We are disappointed by the EPA’s decision today. Halliburton welcomes any federal court’s examination of our good faith efforts with the EPA to date.
EPA cover letter (pdf)