EPA to look at hydraulic fracturing chemicals on water quality
EPA formally requests voluntary information from companies about chemicals used in natural gas extraction
by Environmental Protection Agency
September 13, 2010
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has issued voluntary information requests to nine natural gas service companies regarding the process known as hydraulic fracturing. The data requested is integral to a broad scientific study now underway by EPA, which Congress in 2009 directed the agency to conduct to determine whether hydraulic fracturing has an impact on drinking water and the public health of Americans living in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing wells.
In making the requests of the nine leading national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers – BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, PRC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford – EPA is seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted. This information will be used as the basis for gathering further detailed information on a representative selection of sites.
"This scientifically rigorous study will help us understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water – a concern that has been raised by Congress and the American people. By sharing information about the chemicals and methods they are using, these companies will help us make a thorough and efficient review of hydraulic fracturing and determine the best path forward," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Natural gas is an important part of our nation’s energy future, and it’s critical that the extraction of this valuable natural resource does not come at the expense of safe water and healthy communities. EPA will do everything in its power, as it is obligated to do, to protect the health of the American people and will respond to demonstrated threats while the study is underway."
Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected at high pressures to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock formations. The process creates fractures in formations such as shale rock, allowing natural gas or oil to escape into the well and be recovered. During the past few years, the use of hydraulic fracturing has expanded across much of the country.
EPA announced in March that it will study the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water. To solicit input on the scope of the study, EPA is holding a series of public meetings in major oil and gas production regions to hear from citizens, independent experts and industry. The initial results of the study will be announced in late 2012. EPA will identify additional information for industry to provide – including information on fluid disposal practices and geological features – that will help EPA carry out the study.
EPA has requested the information be provided on a voluntary basis within 30 days, and has asked the companies to respond within seven days to inform the agency whether they will provide all of the information sought. The data being sought by the agency is similar to information that has already been provided separately to Congress by the industry. Therefore, EPA expects the companies to cooperate with these voluntary requests. If not, EPA is prepared to use its authorities to require the information needed to carry out its study.
EPA is currently working with state and local governments who play an important role in overseeing and regulating fracturing operations and are at the forefront of protecting local air and water quality from adverse impacts.
View the letter on the voluntary information request: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hydraulicfracturing
«Title» «First_Name» «Last_Name»
«City», «State» «ZIP_Code»
Dear «Title» «Last_Name»:
I am requesting your cooperation in a scientific study the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency is conducting to gather information about the hydraulic fracturing process for natural-gas
production and to assess its potential impacts on drinking-water quality and public health.
Congress has asked the EPA to conduct this study to address concerns that hydraulic fracturing
may be affecting the safety of drinking water. In numerous U.S. communities where fracturing is
under way, citizens are voicing serious concerns. The EPA is holding four major public
meetings, and thousands of Americans throughout the nation are sharing their views on the study
and expressing full support for this effort.
Natural gas is a key part of our nation's energy future. My request is part of an effort to
ensure that the innovative development of domestic sources of energy proceeds in a way that
protects our environment and our health. The EPA’s study will proceed through a transparent,
peer-reviewed process with significant stakeholder input. We are committed to using the best
available science. We already have conducted extensive outreach and look forward to the
continuing participation of industry, independent experts and the public.
The thoroughness of our study depends on timely access to detailed information about the
methods used for fracturing. Much of this information is uniquely in the possession of companies
performing fracturing operations. As Administrator of the EPA, I ask that you assist our
scientists by providing information on several topics, including the chemical composition of
fluids, standard operating procedures and the sites at which you engage in hydraulic fracturing.
If you have any questions, please have your staff contact Fred Hauchman or Jeanne
Briskin in the EPA’s Office of Research and Development at (202) 564-6705 or at
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
We would appreciate your cooperation in this study. Please see the enclosure for our
information request and more details.
Lisa P. Jackson
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA" or "Agency") is conducting a scientific study
to investigate the potential impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water quality and public
EPA is undertaking the hydraulic fracturing study at the request of the U. S. Congress,
specifically the Appropriations Conference Committee of the House of Representatives. In its Fiscal
Year 2010 budget report, the Committee asked EPA to carry out a study on the "relationship between
hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, using a credible approach that relies on the best available
science, as well as independent sources of information." EPA requests your cooperation in providing
information to support the study.
To help EPA evaluate the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water quality and
public health, EPA requests that you provide full and complete information in response to the questions
set forth in this enclosure. Using your response, we will be identifying follow-up information that you or
other companies in the industry should be able to provide to further support our study. Please provide
the information within thirty (30) days of receipt of this request.
All submissions should be addressed to:
P.O. Box 1198 (mailing address)
919 Kerr Research Dr. (delivery address)
Ada, OK 74820
Additionally, EPA requests that within seven (7) days of receipt of this request, you provide
notice as to whether or not you will submit all of the information requested. Please notify Jeanne
Briskin regarding your decision about whether or not you will submit all of the information requested at
Data provided in response to this request may be claimed as Confidential Business Information
(CBI) and will be handled in accordance with EPA confidentiality regulations at 40 CFR Part 2, Subpart
B. All responses which contain information claimed as CBI must be clearly marked as such. Persons
submitting information, any portion of which they believe is entitled to treatment as CBI by EPA, must
assert a business confidentiality claim in accordance with 40 CFR 2.203(b) for each such portion. This
claim must be made at the time that the information is submitted to EPA. If a submitter does not assert a
confidentiality claim at the time of submission, EPA will consider this as a waiver of any confidentiality
claim and the information may be made available to the public by EPA without further notice to the
EPA is requesting that you provide this information voluntarily; however, to the extent that EPA
does not receive sufficient data in response to this letter, EPA will be exploring legal alternatives to
compel submission of the needed information. Since EPA will be considering using its legal authorities
to require submission if necessary, the standard for any determination of eligibility for confidential
treatment will be that which applies to information that has been submitted pursuant to a requirement by
EPA. By submitting information in response to this letter, you are agreeing to this standard.
Please read this enclosure carefully and follow the directions provided. Your response is
requested within thirty (30) days of receipt of this letter. Directions for properly submitting information
responsive to this request and for claiming CBI are included in the enclosure. Depending on the
information you may provide in response to this request, EPA may follow up with a request for your
voluntary submittal of additional information.
The information requested herein is separate from information requests that have been issued by
the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce in furtherance of the
Committee’s investigation into the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing. EPA asks that you submit
the information requested, even if the identical information was, or will be, provided to the Committee in
furtherance of its investigation.
EPA requests that the information you submit be verified by, and submitted under an authorized
signature by, a responsible corporate officer,1 with the following certification:
I certify that this document and all attachments were prepared under my direction
or supervision in accordance with a system designed to assure that qualified
personnel properly gather and evaluate the information submitted. Based on my
inquiry of the person or persons who manage the system, or those persons
directly responsible for gathering the information, I certify that the information
submitted is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, true, accurate, and
1. The term "responsible corporate officer," as used herein, means a president, secretary, treasurer, or vice-president of the corporation in charge of a principal business function, or any other person who performs similar policy or decision-making functions for the corporation.
complete. I am aware that there are significant penalties for submitting false
information, including the possibility of fine and imprisonment for knowing
As referenced above, requests for confidential treatment of documents must be made when
information or access to records is provided and in accordance with the instructions provided below.
EPA requests that you follow the instructions below in developing and submitting responses to
this information request:
A. Respond to Each Request Completely. Each request is numbered and may contain
subparts identified by lowercase letters. A separate response should be made to each
request and subpart. Provide a separate narrative response to each request and subpart
and clearly identify your responses with the number, subpart, and text of the request to
which it corresponds. Each question posed should be answered. If the appropriate
response is "none" or "not applicable," that information should be so stated. You should
also submit any documents you relied on in preparing your response.
B. Source(s) of Response. Include with each narrative response, the name, position, and
title of each person(s) who provided information responsive to the request.
C. Electronic Submittal. You should submit your responses as one or more electronic files
on a CD or similar media storage device in a form that allows EPA to readily retrieve and
utilize the information using commercially available software. To that end, EPA requests
that your responses be provided on the CD enclosed with this request and that you use the
Excel spreadsheet format contained on the CD. Your electronic files should be
accompanied by a letter that identifies the file software and version, file name(s), size(s),
date(s), and time(s) of creation. Your electronic files should include any documents you
relied on in preparing your responses.
D. Submitting Maps. When submitting maps, identify the scale of the map, the map title and
an explanation of what the map depicts. When identifying features on the map, either
label the feature at its location on the map or include in the map’s legend the symbol used
for identifying the feature.
E. Submission of Documents. Label each document submitted with the request number and
subpart (if applicable) to which it corresponds. Date stamp each document you submit.
If anything is deleted from a document produced in response to this request, state the
reason for and the subject matter of the deletion.
F. Documents Responsive to More than One Request. If a document you submit is
responsive to more than one request, please provide one copy of the document and
identify all the requests, by number and subpart, to which it corresponds.
G. Do Not Substitute Derivative or Summary Documents. Where a document is requested,
please provide the responsive document. You may, if you wish, provide additional or
explanatory documents to accompany the responsive document(s).
H. Provide the Best Information Available. Unless otherwise specified, we are not
requesting that you create new data or information. However, you should provide
responses to the best of your ability, even if the information sought was never put down
in writing or if the written documents are no longer available. You should seek
responsive information from current and former employees and/or agents. If you cannot
provide a precise answer to any questions, please approximate and state the reason for
your inability to be specific.
I. Unavailability of Records. If you are unable to respond to a request in a detailed and
complete manner, or if you are unable to provide any of the information requested,
indicate the reason for your inability to do so. If a record(s) responsive to a request is not
in your possession, custody, or control and you have reason to believe that another person
may be able to provide it, state the reasons for your belief and provide the person’s name,
address, telephone number, and any information available (i.e., author, date, or subject
matter) about the record(s).
J. Documents That Have Been Transferred. If any records responsive to a request have
been transferred or otherwise disposed of, identify the document, identify the person to
whom it was transferred, describe the circumstances surrounding such transfer or other
disposition, and state the date or approximate date of such transfer or other disposition.
K. Provide and/or Correct Information on a Continuing Basis. If any records responsive to a
request are not known or are not available to you at the time you submitted your
response, but later become known or available to you, you should submit the new
information as a supplement to your response. If at any time after submission of your
response you learn that any portion is or becomes false, incomplete, or misrepresents the
facts, you should notify EPA of this fact as soon as possible and provide a corrected
response. If any part of the response to this information request is found to be false, the
signatory to the response and the company may be subject to criminal prosecution.
L. Identify Personal Privacy Information. Personnel and medical files, and similar files, the
disclosure of which to the general public may constitute an invasion of privacy, should be
segregated from your responses, included on separate sheet(s), and marked as "Personal
Privacy Information." You should note, however, that unless prohibited by law, EPA
may disclose this information to the general public without further notice to you.
M. Indicate Objections to Requests. While you may indicate that you object to certain
requests contained in this information request, EPA requests that you provide responsive
information notwithstanding those objections.
N. Claims of Privilege. If you claim that an entire document responsive to this information
request is a communication for which you assert that a privilege exists, identify the
document and provide the basis for asserting the privilege. For any document for which
you assert that a privilege exists for a portion of it, provide the portion of the document
for which you are not asserting a privilege; identify the portion of the document for
which you are asserting the privilege; and provide the basis for such an assertion. Please
note that regardless of the assertion of any privilege, any facts contained in the document
which are responsive to this information request should be disclosed in your response.
O. Confidential Business Information. You should provide the information requested even
though you consider it confidential information or trade secrets. You may assert a
business confidentiality claim for part or all of the information requested, as described
below and set forth in 40 C.F.R. Part 2, Subpart B. Information covered by such a claim
will be disclosed by EPA only to the extent and only by the procedures set forth in 40
C.F.R. Part 2, Subpart B. If no confidentiality claim accompanies the information when
EPA receives it, the information may be made available to the public by EPA without
further notice to you.
If you wish EPA to treat any information or response as "confidential," you must advise EPA and
comply with the following procedures. Place on or attach to the information at the time it is submitted to
EPA a cover sheet, stamped or typed legend, or other suitable form of notice employing such language as
trade secret, proprietary, or company confidential. You must clearly identify allegedly confidential
portions of otherwise non-confidential documents, and you may want to submit these separately to
facilitate identification and handling by EPA. EPA will ask you to substantiate each claim of confidential
business information by separate letter in accordance with applicable EPA regulations, 40 C.F.R. Part 2,
Please use the following definitions for purposes of responding to the questions set forth below:
Except as otherwise defined below, terms in this information request have the same
definition used in the CWA, 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251 through 1387, RCRA, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 6901 through 6992k, and TSCA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2601 through 2695d, and the regulations
A. The terms "and" and "or" shall be construed either disjunctively or conjunctively as
necessary to bring within the scope of this information request any information which
might otherwise be construed to be outside its scope.
B. The term "any," as in "any documents," for example, shall mean "any and all."
C. The term "Company" shall mean the entity identified as the addressee on the cover letter
to this information request and all related and affiliated corporate entities (including, but
not limited to, parent corporations, subsidiaries, joint ventures, partnerships, and
affiliates) that perform hydraulic fracturing services.
D. The term "correspondence" or "communications" includes, but is not limited to, all oral,
written, telephonic, facsimile, and electronic correspondence and/or communications.
E. The term "describe" means to detail, depict, or give an account of the requested
information, or to report the content of any oral and/or written correspondence,
communication, or conversation, or to report the contents of any document, including the
title, the author, the position or title of the author, the addressee, the position or title of
the addressee, indicated or blind copies, date, subject matter, number of pages,
attachment or appendices, and all persons to whom the document was distributed, shown,
F. The terms "document" and "documents" shall mean any information subject to any
method of recording, storage, or transmittal, and shall include any information now or
formerly in your possession, custody or control, or now or formerly in the possession,
custody or control of any agent acting on your behalf. "Document" shall include, but not
be limited to:
1. Writings of any kind, formal or informal, whether or not wholly or partially in
handwriting, typed form, or printed form, including drafts, originals, and nonconforming
copies that contain deletions, insertions, handwritten notes or comments, and including
(by way of illustration and not by way of limitation) any of the following:
a. invoices, receipts, endorsements, checks, bank drafts, canceled checks,
deposit slips, withdrawal slips, orders;
b. letters, correspondences, faxes, telegrams, telexes, electronic
communications including, but not limited to, e-mails and other
correspondence using computers or other electronic communication
c. minutes, memoranda of meetings and telephone and other conversations,
d. agreements, contracts, and the like;
e. log books, diaries, calendars, desk pads, journals;
f. bulletins, circulars, forms, pamphlets, statements;
g. reports, notice, analysis, notebook;
h. graphs, charts; or
i. records, pamphlets, surveys, manuals, statistical compilations, pictures.
2. Microfilm or other film record, photograph, or sound recording on any type of device.
3. Any tape, disc, or other type of memory generally associated with computers and data
processing, together with:
a. the programming instructions and other written material necessary to use
such disc, disc pack, tape, or other type of memory; and
b. printouts of such disc, disc pack, tape, or other type of memory.
4. Attachments to or enclosures with any document.
G. The term "flowback" as used in this information request refers to the water mixture
produced when the hydraulic fracturing procedure is completed and pressure is released,
and the direction of fluid flow reverses. The well is "cleaned up" by allowing water and
excess proppant to flow up through the wellbore to the surface. Both the process and the
returned water are commonly referred to as "flowback" and the term is used in both ways
H. The term "identify" or "provide the identity of" means, with respect to a person to set
forth: (a) the person’s full name, (b) present or last known business and home addresses
and telephone numbers; (c) present or last known employer (including the full name and
address), with job title, and position or business;
I. The term "identify" or "provide the identity of" means, with respect to a corporation,
partnership, business trust, government office or division, or other entity (including a sole
proprietorship), to set forth: (a) its full name; (b) complete street address; (c) legal form
(e.g. corporation, partnership); (d) the state under whose laws the entity was organized;
and (e) a brief description of its business.
J. The term "identify" or "provide the identity of" means, with respect to a document, to
provide: (a) its customary business description (e.g., letter, invoice); (b) its date; (c) its
number if any (e.g., invoice or purchase order number); (d) the identity of the author(s),
the address, and the addressee(s) and/or recipient(s); (e) and a summary of the substance
or the subject matter.
K. The term "person" means an individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, corporation
(including a government corporation), limited liability company, partnership, association,
State, municipality, commission, political subdivision of a State, or an interstate body.
L. The term "produced water" as used in this information request refers to the water mixture
produced when the drilling and fracturing of the well are completed, and water is
produced along with the natural gas. Some of this water is returned fracture fluid and
some is natural formation water. These produced waters move back through the wellhead
with the gas.
M. The term "site" means a property where natural gas drilling and related activities occur,
whether or not the property is owned or leased by the Company, including all areas
within the exterior boundaries of that property. Multiple wells may be located at a single
Your response to the following questions is requested within thirty (30) days of receipt of
this information request:
1. Provide the name of each hydraulic fracturing fluid formulation/mixture distributed or
utilized by the Company within the past five years from the date of this letter. For each
formulation/mixture, provide the following information for each constituent of such product.
"Constituent" includes each and every component of the product, including chemical
substances, pesticides, radioactive materials and any other components.
a. Chemical name (e.g., benzene – use IUPAC nomenclature);
b. Chemical formula (e.g., C6H6);
c. Chemical Abstract System number (e.g., 71-43-2);
d. Material Safety Data Sheet;
e. Concentration (e.g., ng/g or ng/L) of each constituent in each hydraulic fracturing
fluid product. Indicate whether the concentration was calculated or determined
analytically. This refers to the actual concentration injected during the fracturing
process following mixing with source water, and the delivered concentration of the
constituents to the site. Also indicate the analytical method which may be used to
determine the concentration (e.g., SW-846 Method 8260, in-house SOP), and include
the analytical preparation method (e.g., SW-846 Method 5035), where applicable;
f. Identify the persons who manufactured each product and constituent and the persons
who sold them to the Company, including address and telephone numbers for any
g. Identify the purpose and use of each constituent in each hydraulic fracturing fluid
product (e.g., solvent, gelling agent, carrier,);
h. For proppants, identify the proppant, whether or not it was resin coated, and the
materials used in the resin coating;
i. For the water used, identify the quantity, quality and the specifications of water
needed to meet site requirements, and the rationale for the requirements;
j. Total quantities of each constituent used in hydraulic fracturing and the related
quantity of water in which the chemicals were mixed to create the fracturing fluids to
support calculated and/or measured composition and properties of the hydraulic
fracturing fluids; and
k. Chemical and physical properties of all chemicals used, such as Henry’s law
coefficients, partitioning coefficients (e.g. Kow KOC, Kd), aqueous solubility,
degradation products and constants and others.
2. Provide all data and studies in the Company’s possession relating to the human health and
environmental impacts and effects of all products and constituents identified in Question 1.
3. For all hydraulic fracturing operations for natural gas extraction involving any of the products
and constituents identified in the response to Question 1, describe the process including the
a. Please provide any policies, practices and procedures you employ, including any
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) concerning hydraulic fracturing sites, for all
operations including but not limited to: drilling in preparation for hydraulic
fracturing including calculations or other indications for choice and composition of
drilling fluids/muds; water quality characteristics needed to prepare fracturing fluid;
relationships among depth, pressure, temperature, formation geology, geophysics and
chemistry and fracturing fluid composition and projected volume; determination of
estimated volumes of flowback and produced waters; procedures for managing
flowback and produced waters; procedures to address unexpected circumstances such
as loss of drilling fluid/mud, spills, leaks or any emergency conditions (e.g., blow
outs), less than fully effective well completion; modeling and actual choice of
fracturing conditions such as pressures, temperatures, and fracturing material choices;
determination of exact concentration of constituents in hydraulic fracturing fluid
formulations/mixtures; determination of dilution ratios for hydraulic fracturing fluids,
b. Describe how fracturing fluid products and constituents are modified at a site during
the fluid injection process.
a. Identify all sites where, and all persons to whom, the Company:
i. provided hydraulic fracturing fluid services that involve the use of hydraulic
fracturing fluids for the year prior to the date of this letter, and
ii. plans to provide hydraulic fracturing fluid services that involve the use of
hydraulic fracturing fluids during one year after the date of this letter.
b. Describe the specific hydraulic fracturing fluid services provided or to be provided
for each of the sites in Question 4.a.i. and ii., including the identity of any contractor
that the Company has hired or will hire to provide any portion of such services.
For each site identified in response to Question 4, please provide all information specified
in the enclosed electronic spreadsheet.