Biggest output of U.S. oil and gas industry is dirty water
The bad news:
“Every day, U.S. oil and gas producers bring to the surface 60 million barrels of waste water, with a salt content up to 20 times higher than sea water and laced with hazardous chemicals,” reports John Kemp of Reuters. In an aging well, as much as 98 percent of the stuff that comes to the surface can be water.
The good news:
Almost all of that wastewater is disposed of without incident — injected deep into the earth to maintain pressure on existing oil wells, for example. The EPA regulates the hell out of all this stuff (unlike, say, strip mining for coal, which generally gets a pass) and the result is, for the most part, a functional waste disposal system that doesn’t contaminate anyone’s water. Because that would be illegal.
This means it’s possible for fracking wastewater to be disposed of responsibly too. The question is, will the EPA retain the power to make sure it happens, or will industry shills and K-street lobbyists distract them from their duty?