In Fracking’s Wake

In Fracking’s Wake: New Rules
are Needed to Protect Our Health and
Environment from Contaminated Wastewater
This report combines an evaluation of federal and state laws regulating fracking wastewater with a thorough review, compiled for NRDC by an independent scientist, of the health and environmental risks posed by this high-volume waste stream and the currently available treatment and disposal methods. It finds that the currently available options are inadequate to protect human health and the environment, but that stronger safeguards at the state and federal levels could better protect against the risks associated with this waste. The most significant of the policy changes needed now are (a) closing the loophole in federal law that exempts hazardous oil and gas waste from treatment, storage, and disposal requirements applicable to other hazardous waste, and (b) improving regulatory standards for wastewater treatment facilities and the level of treatment required before discharge to water bodies.  In examining a number of different fracking wastewater disposal methods that are being used in the Marcellus Shale region, the report finds that although all are problematic, with better regulation some could be preferable while others should not be allowed at all. NRDC opposes expanded fracking without effective safeguards. States such as New York that are considering fracking should not move forward until the available wastewater disposal options are fully evaluated and safeguards are in place to address the risks and impacts identified in this report.
Where fracking is already taking place, the federal government and states must move forward swiftly to adopt the policy recommendations in this report to better protect people and the environment.