Boston, MA- From Fortune 500 companies like Cabot Oil, to fly-by-night operators, to firms like Chevron who tout their clean records -- virtually all types of fracking outfits are prone to breaking rules intended to protect the environment and public health, a new report says. The analysis of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry over a four-year period found that the top offenders, representing a diversity of companies, averaged more than an environmental violation every day.
“Fracking is an inherently risky, dirty, dangerous practice, and regulations can’t change that,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America. “But this report shows that a range of oil and gas companies struggle to meet even modest protections for our environment and public health.”
The analysis from Environment America Research & Policy Center, Fracking Failures: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania and What They Mean for the U.S, tracks lapses such as allowing toxic chemicals to leach into the air and water, endangering drinking water through improper well construction, and dumping industrial waste into waterways.
Houston-based Cabot Oil, a prime Halliburton contractor, committed the most total violations with 265. Chesapeake Energy was close behind. Pittsburgh-based Atlas was guilty of the most breaches for every well drilled, while Mieka, part of Dallas-based Vadda Energy, was responsible for the most infractions per well operated.
Four firms -- EQT, Chevron Appalachia, Consol and Shell -- who told the public they would adhere to higher standards when they formed the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, were also among the worst offenders. Together they racked up at least 100 infractions even after they pledged to do better in 2013.
The Environment America analysis comes on the heels of the largest fracking wastewater spill in North Dakota since the boom began in that state, and as the U.S. Department of Interior weighs rules governing the drilling practice on public lands.
“Fracking is a failure for our environment and health,” said Rumpler. “That’s why we should keep this dirty drilling out of our national parks, forests, and other public lands. And where fracking has already taken root, we need to demand tough financial assurance so the drillers, not communities, pay for the full damage that is sure to follow.”