You are here

Request that President Obama Fulfill His 2012 State of the Union Pledge Not to Put the "health and safety" of Americans "at risk" From Shale Fracking Pollution by Banning Improper Oil and Natural Gas Wastewater Disposal

December 20, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that you fulfill your 2012 State of the Union pledge not to put the "health and safety" of Americans "at risk" from shale fracking pollution hazards. Before leaving office on January 20, 2017, we ask that you ban five types of improper oil and natural gas wastewater disposal that have caused well-documented contamination problems in many states:

1. Deep-well injection which can pollute underground drinking water sources and cause earthquakes as reported in Ohio, Oklahoma and other states;

2. Agricultural crop irrigation and livestock watering west of the 98th Meridian West with wastewater containing up to 35 parts per million of potentially toxic oil/grease pollutants;

3. Landspreading for de-icing, dust control and roadbed stabilization which can contaminate soils and surface waters;

4. "Recycling" of contaminated wastewater for fracking purposes that can pollute underground drinking water sources; and

5. Dumping into recharge and evaporation pits, ponds and lagoons which can cause widespread pollution hazards.

Please Fulfill Your 2012 State of the Union Public Health Protection Promise Without Further Delay

In your 2012 State of the Union Address, you specifically promised:

"We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy (emphasis added). Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk (emphasis added)."

See paragraph 52: Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address | whitehouse ...

With all due respect, you have yet to fulfill this promise.

Shale Fracking in America

Shale fracking is the most controversial, environmentally devastating and least regulated oil and gas extraction technique in America. Due to fracking, America became the biggest producer of oil and natural gas in the world as scientific studies further documented that fossil fuels contribute to global climate change.

Fracking typically pumps millions of gallons of highly pressurized water into wells drilled horizontally through shale formations. This process cracks the rock and releases oil and natural gas contained in tiny pores. Fracking a single shale well generates huge quantities of highly toxic "flowback" and "produced" wastewater.

Fracking and conventional oil and gas extraction wastewaters are contaminated with toxic metals, radioactive elements, dissolved solids and organic chemicals, including benzene, naphthalene, xylene, toluene, tetrachloroethylene, barium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, sodium, radium-226 and radium-228.

See: Unconventional Oil And Gas Extraction Wastewater Volumes And Characteristics

Fracking wastewater disposal has caused unprecedented contamination problems across the country. Improper toxic-polluting oil and gas extraction wastewater disposal practices have the potential to cause irreparable harm to public health and the environment in more than half the states in the nation.

See: Fracking oil and gas extraction maps for PA, OH, CO, MI, OK and CA.

See: Toxics Targeting's Data Compilation of Natural Gas and Oil Extraction/Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Pollution Hazards

Unprecedented Fracking Wastewater Pollution Hazards

During the early days of the U.S. shale fracking boom in 2008, fracking wastewater was discharged into Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) in western Pennsylvania which were neither designed, constructed nor maintained to break down or remove toxic pollutants and dissolved solids in the wastewater.

The pollutants "passed through" into the Monongahela River. As a result, 850,000 residents near Pittsburgh could not drink water drawn from that waterbody during the biggest drinking water pollution crisis in U.S. history.

See: 2008 Shale Fracking Monongahela River Drinking Water Crisis

New EPA Ban on Fracking Wastewater Dumping in POTWs

Disclosure of the Monongahela incident prompted the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to initiate a regulatory proceeding which imposed a nationwide ban on fracking wastewater dumping into POTWs on 6/28/16.

See: Final rule: Federal Register Notice (PDF)

EPA Authority to Regulate Fracking and Conventional Petroleum Extraction Wastewater Disposal

EPA has broad authority to regulate improper conventional and fracking wastewater disposal pursuant to the U. S. Safe Drinking Water Act and the U. S. Clean Water Act, but has failed to do so on a comprehensive basis.

EPA's POTW fracking wastewater ban sets a critical precedent for safeguarding public health and the environment from toxic-polluting oil and gas extraction wastewater disposal practices that should have been banned decades ago.


Mr. President, with all respect, your pro-fracking policies will help perpetuate America's addiction to natural gas and oil for decades to come. You will surely be judged on the wisdom of that fateful decision.

It would be irresponsible of you, however, to end your term of office without resolving the inadequate regulation of natural gas and oil extraction wastewater disposal that is causing irreparable contamination threats to public health all over the nation. We respectfully request that you take swift action in the coming days to fulfill your 2012 State of the Union pledge.
Thank you for your consideration and for your public service.

Very truly yours,

Total Signatory Count: 539

Lisa Cowden
5265 Indian Fort Road
Trumansburg, New York
Henry Faryna
5138 County Route 70A
Bath, NY
Catherine Okimoto
4455 Linda Vista Ave
Napa , California
Lauren Steefanelli
172 Sheffield Rd.
Ithaca, NY
Anne Klingensmith
41 Muzzy rd
Ithaca, NY
Sally Crow
214 McBerney Rd.
Greene, New York
Daniel Ripperton
323 Rachel Carson Trail
Ithaca, NY
Kristin Lovelace-Ross
56 Waterburg Rd
Trumansburg, NY
Stephanie Kutzke
70 white oak
Rochester , Ny
Corinne Frantz
1 Strawberry Lane
Ithaca, NY
Sonya Suter
210 West 109th St Apt 2
New York, NY
Elaine Shuster
61 Stewart Ave - Unit 311
Newburgh, NY
Pamela Dritt
13 Concord Greene, Unit 4
Concord, Massachusetts
Mariza Bafile
La Voce d'Italia Usa - ViceVersa Magazine
232 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY
Teresa McDonald
111 Glenwood
Chickasha , Oklahoma
9290 hardwicke lane
Florence , Ky
Judith Ravnitzky
124 Hill Street
Mahopac, New York
Steven Handwerker
103 So Beach Rd
Adam Berenstain
1450 Mecklenburg Road
Ithaca, NY
Tonya Bittner
Mothers Out Front
533 Ringwood Road
Freeville, NY
Roseann Marrero
Leslie Potter
109 Main St.
Big Flats, NY
Sheila Squier
110 Columbia Street
Ithaca, NY
Ra Evans
33 Maple
Beacon , NY
Dianna Mcmenamin
63 Silver Street
South Hadley, MA
Spencer Tasayco
Po box 1573
Anaheim , California
Barbara Nussbaum
925 Mitchell Street, Apt. 1
Ithaca, NY
Charles Burch
East 2nd Street
Corning, New York
Pam Steckler
Earthists, USA
State College, PA
Nancy Rees
7134 East Bluff Drive
Penn Yan, NY
Judith Canepa
New York Climate Action Group
716 East 11th Street #2P
New York, NY
Elizabeth Schaffer
24 Clover Park Drive #3
Rochester, NY
Margaret Jefferds
6 Erie St
Almond, NY
Elizabeth W. Manus
self - adjunct instructor of media studies
2370 County Road 204
Durango, CO
Katharine Dawson
1008 Gospel Hill Road
Guilford, New York
Barb Lucia
West Side Alliance
1307 Penna Ave West
Warren, PA
Gregory Subtelny
Concerned Citizen
Marcellus Shale
9211 Hatch Rd
Trumansburg, New York
Erin Heaton
Vice Chair
Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy (C-CARE)
510 County Route 31
Norwich, NY
Otto Butz
Milford Doers/Residents of Crumhorn Mtn
Maryland, NY