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

Diane Stein
40 Harrison St., Apt. 15A
New York, NY
Sheryl Samuel
891 Berme Rd
High Falls, NY
Max Schmid
46-07 28th Ave
Astoria, NY
Amy Whitney
920 Snyder Hill Rd
Ithaca, NY
Patti Rose
Berks Gastruth
919 N 26th St
Reading, PA
Rose Shana
Marty Hiller
110 W Lewis St
Ithaca, New York
Teresa Baumgardner
620 Grand Ave.
Aliquippa, PA
Debra Borowiec
3837 Hills Church Rd
Murrysville, PA
Ronald Gulla
302 Linden Creek Road
Canonsburg, Pa
Gail Neustadt
1503 Grand Cypress Lane
Presto, PA
Susan Meacham
66 Phillips Road
Milford, NJ
Angelo Serignese
257 William Drive
Martina Leonard
Box 181
Garrison , NY
Edward Mitchell
Sole Proprietor
Bronx River Bicycle Works
27 Mount Vernon Avenue
Mount Vernon, New York
Benita J. Campbell
Allegheny UU Church
23 Hindman Avenue
Burgettstown, PA
Peg Schadt
165 Myrtle Ave
Johnson City, New York
D Garrott
Cowansville, PA
Robert Steffes
711 hall st
Aliquippa, Pa
Rebecca Casstevens
22 Winding Way
Binghamton, New York
brenda lee
16 quarry dr
wappingers falls, ny
Akhtar Ehtisham
553 Elsie Avenue
South Plainfield, NJ
Vera Scroggins
71 Gus Park Lane
Brackney, PA
James Cleghorn
Paradise Gardens and Farm
310 Ridgemede Rd - Unit 406
Baltimore, MD
J E Delman
Red Hook, NY
Patricia Sacks
1412 Farr Road
Reading, PA
David Ritchie
160 Crescent Pl
Ithaca, NY
Suzanne Staggenborg
5621 Beacon St.
Pittsburgh, PA
Ellen Cantarow
158-18 Riverside Drive West
New York, NY
John W. Parana
323 Mill Street
Johnsonburg, PA
elizabeth path
25 elm ave
homer, ny
Ramsey Brous
42 Sparrow Crest
Ithaca, NY
Eleanor Fox
30 Columbia Circle
Albany, NY
August Genevro
2 Circle Drive
Brockway, Pennsylvania
William Granche
senior citizen
the people
24 Lincoln St.
Ridgway, PA 15853
James Stephenson
4625 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA
Karen Sorensen
388 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY
Mary Graham
4021 McIntyre Rd
Trumansburg, NY
Carolyn Harding
156 N Roosevelt Ave
Bexley, OH
Sandra Schoelles
Environment and Stuff
4919 East Road
Angelica , NY
Abbe Lyons
154 Westhaven Road
Ithaca, NY
Briget Shields
Outreach coordinater
Friends of the Harmed
2329 Tilbury Ave
Pittsburgh, PA
Steve Anagnostos
Kindergarten teacher
378 Thomas rd.
Ithaca, N.Y.
Patricia Wittig
95 Walnut Street
East Stroudsburg, PA
Elizabeth Rieman
405 S. Garth
Columbia , Missouri
William Ferullo
4834 Leraysville Rd.
Warren Center, PA
Meghan Wynne
Concerned Citizens of New Concord
108 Thompson Avenue
New Concord, Ohio
172 Reno Road
Hermitage, Pa
Sheila Gallagher
Co-Chair, Sustainable Agriculture Committee
Sierra Club, PA Chapter
2805 N. Delaware Ave.
Easton, PA
Linda Willis
5367 Edwards rd
Denton , Tx