Clean Water Action's goals are to secure the strongest possible water and health protections using existing policy tools to limit the worst impacts of oil and gas development. We push for stronger policies to end the special treatment for the fossil fuel industry at the local, state, and national levels. We support communities in the fight against all phases of harmful oil and gas activity – drilling, wastewater disposal, shipping by rail, trucking, ports, pipelines and use in power plants.
We do this work in the context of our broader goals of winning effective policies to combat climate change, supporting the transition to a clean energy economy and with an understanding that ultimately the best way to protect people and the planet is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Stopping the Oil and Gas Industry from Polluting Our Local Rivers, Lakes and Bays: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating a 30 year old Clean Water Act program which regulates what type of waste oil and gas companies can send to sewer treatment plants, or publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) for disposal. In the past oil and gas companies have sent millions of gallons of their wastewater to these sewage treatment plants, which then discharge it to our rivers, lakes and bays. Clean Water Action mobilized almost 15,000 emails and letters during the public comment period. Read more.
EPA Fracking Assessment Exposes Threats to Drinking Water from Oil and Gas: “The Assessment smashes the myth that there can be oil and gas development without impacts to drinking water. Fracking is a complex process that poses a complex array of potential risks to drinking water. The Assessment informs actions we need to take to protect drinking water and public health by outlining the numerous vulnerabilities throughout the fracking water lifecycle.” – John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, Clean Water Action. Read moreOur Drinking Water at Risk: It is widely recognized that Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. But it is less understood that SDWA still pertains in several ways to fracking and oil and gas exploration, drilling and wastewater disposal.
Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund have found large problems with SDWA and how the Act protects drinking water from certain oil and gas and uranium mining activities. A groundbreaking report and a white paper, released in January 2015, explores two SDWA programs - the Aquifer Exemption Program and the Under Injection Control Class II Program. Read more
In recent years, a technique called hydrofracturing (or fracking, for short) has been used to drill for gas and oil buried miles below the surface of the earth. Among the areas where fracking is growing are Michigan and the mid Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, Colorado and Texas, where drilling has been happening for several years. Clean Water Action is working to make sure that fracking does not ruin the air and water of communities in which it happens. We're fighting fracking on the ground and in the state Capitols in California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey, and Maryland.
Gas wells that are fracked are very different from traditional gas wells. They are bigger, deeper, and present a host of environmental threats:
Because shale gas drilling was exempted by Congress from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the 1990’s, there is little federal regulation of fracking. That leaves the states in charge. But unfortunately, many of the states in which drilling is exploding aren’t able to make sure it’s done safely, with thousands of new permits issued each year and budget cuts reducing the number of staff to permit and inspect these wells.
Clean Water Action believes we need to repeal the exemption for shale gas drilling and adopt new federal rules to ensure that it does not pollute our air and water. We are also working in Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to promote moratoriums on new drilling until there are safeguards in place to protect our water and air. And we are fighting in Colorado and Texas to strengthen the rules that protect our water.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, when we rushed to mine coal or drill for oil, we often left devastated communities with huge environmental problems for future generations to deal with….problems that we are still trying to fix today. We need to make sure we don’t do the same thing now with fracking and shale gas drilling!
Photo courtesy of Mark Schmerling
Other ongoing Oil & Gas work: