PennEnvironment Endorses Legislation to Eliminate Hazardous Oil and Gas Loophole

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Allie DiTucci


Washington, DC – Today, PennEnvironment endorsed U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright’s Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations (CLEANER) Act.

The legislation, introduced with over 100 co-sponsors and endorsed by 206 organizations from across the country, eliminates a hazardous waste exemption that was added to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1980.  The CLEANER Act would force oil, gas and geothermal companies to play by the same rules as other industries.

“Under current federal law, oil and gas companies do not even have to test the majority of their waste to see if it is toxic, leaving us with no way of knowing what is being disposed of and how it is being treated.  It is time oil and gas companies comply with the minimum standards and oversight that virtually every other industry successfully works with,” said Rep. Cartwright.

“It’s clear to everyone that the 1.3 billion gallons of fracking waste generated in Pennsylvania over the last few years, which is often laced with numerous toxins and cancer-causing chemicals, is hazardous to our health and environment,” said Adam Garber, PennEnvironment Field Director. “The CLEANER Act will ensure that companies can no longer spray this toxic fluid on our roads, dump hundreds of thousands of gallons into water treatment facilities, or use it to water cattle. We applaud Congressman Cartwright for trying to align the law with what we all already know: fracking wastewater is hazardous to our health.”

The RCRA of 1976 requires the safe disposal of solid waste and hazardous materials.  In 1980, RCRA was amended to exempt waste from the production and development of oil and natural gas (“exploration & production” waste) and geothermal waste.

Currently the task of regulating disposal of these wastes is left to states, with mixed results.

“RCRA is meant to protect the public and the environment from hazardous waste.  Toxins pose health and environmental risks no matter what industry produces them.  It’s time to hold oil and natural gas producers to the same standards that other industries have complied with for over 30 years,” said Rep. Cartwright.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the problem as well, recently proposing federal regulations that would address discharges of wastewater pollutants from onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction facilities to publicly-owned treatment works.