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

Katie Morris
Chicago, IL
Laura Wolfberg
17 Mountain Drive
Selinsgrove , PA
Lissa Coleman
REDWOOD CITY, California
Christopher Origer
26 Chadwick Road
Binghamton, New York
mb steisslinger
827 Sheridan Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Kristina Turechek
392 Hathaway Road
Otego, NY
jill norton
810 greenwood st
evanston, il
melissa melnik
8524 hayes hollow rd
colden, ny
Susan Gage
7313 Boyertown Pike
Douglassville, PA
Linda Schoettker
PO Box 95
Connoquenessing, PA
ryan popple
1254 duffield st
pittsburgh, pa
Earl Walker
Working Families Party, Citizen Action of NY
35 Chestnut Street
Binghamton, NY
Peter Specker
611 N Aurora St
Ithaca, New York
Ilse Funk
Otsego 2000
238 Mill Rd
Cherry Valley, New York
Karen Granche
24 Lincoln Street
Ridgway, Pennsylvania
Gaye Denlinger
3477 Main St
Conestoga, Pennsylvania
Jeannine Laverty
115 lawrence St.
Saratoga Springs , Ny
Diane Sniezek
1113 East Harbor Road
New Castle, PA
sarah striffler
605 hudson st
ithaca, NY
Mr Randall R. Baird
1273 Highland St EXT
DuBois, PA
Kathleen Quinn-Jacobs
Team Leader
Mothers Out Front
52 Sodom Rd
Ithaca, New York
Richard Book
1331 Harbor-Edinburg Rd.
Edinburg, Pa
Emma Lisak
420 Remington Street
Fort Collins, CO
Jane Schantz
142 Indian Creek Road
Ithaca, NY
Debra Hamilton
3148 State Road
Bensalem, PA
Erin Devine Lynch
2111 Sagemore Drive
Marlton , NJ
Diane Sipe
Marcellus Outreach Butler
740 Pattison St. Ext.
Evans City, PA
Leslie Kurzweil
2250 N. Triphammer Rd. K3B
Ithaca, NY
Karyn Sochacki
518 Front Street
Union Beach, NJ
Victoria Furio
Climate Justice
37 Highland Ave
Yonkers, NY
Sandra Ballew
PO Box 13224
Maumelle, Arkansas
Karin Yomboro
412 Dutchtown Rd
Dolgeville, NY
Chad Davis
Legislator- 14th District Representative
Oneida County Board of Legislators
3438 Martin Road
Clinton, New York
Patricia Ladley
People For a Healthy Environment
17 Penny Ln
Ithaca, NY
Joseph Montuori
Kirk Lake Watershed Association
75 Lakeside Rd
Mahopac, NY
Paula MacDonald
53 Kennedy Rd
Honesdale, PA
Carlton (Tom) Kissner
377 Westchester Ave. 2-J
Port Chester, NY
Wendy Jones
435 N Aurora St
Ithaca, NY
Renee Toback
54 Fairfield Road
Yonkers, NY
Sarah Caspar
525 Hopewell Rd
Downingtown, PA
Judy DeVivo
15 New England Dr
Rochester, New York
Deborah Sanhcez
372 W. Saugerties RD
Saugerties, NY
Lori Krane
88 Wayne Ave.
White Plains, NY
David Kagan
885 Torbert Lane
Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania
Wayne Hansen
415 Julian Woods Lane
Julian, PA
Terry Cuddy
Cayuga Anti-Fracking Alliance
133 S. Hoopes Ave.
Auburn, New York
Barbara VanHanken
Green Country Sierra Club
2212 E 38th St
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Jessye Waxman
Environmental Law Institute
1730 M St NW Ste 700
Washington, District of Columbia
Jay Sweeney
Steering Committee
Green Party
303 How Kola Rd
Dalton, Pa