Documents reveal EPA approved toxic chemicals for fracking in 2011

“It’s very disturbing to see the extent to which critical information about these chemicals is shielded from public view.”

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Former President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had approved the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as dangerous chemicals that break down into PFAS, while fracking for gas and oil since 2011 despite concerns about toxicity. 

According to Common Dreams, the EPA’s approval in 2011 of three new compounds for use in oil and gas drilling or fracking that can eventually break down into PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” was not publicized until Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) obtained internal records from the agency through a Freedom of Information Act request. 

“Forever chemicals” are compounds that may take hundreds, or even thousands, of years to break down in the environment. They can also persist in the human body, potentially causing health problems, writes the Scientific American

Even with the knowledge that these“forever chemicals” are proven to be carcinogenic and are linked to birth defects, the EPA still approved these toxic substances threatening humans, animals, and the environment. 

“It’s very disturbing to see the extent to which critical information about these chemicals is shielded from public view. The lack of transparency about fracking chemicals puts human health at risk,” says Barbara Gottlieb, PSR’s Environment & Health Program director.

As reported by The New York Times, an Exxon spokesman, in response to questions regarding whether it uses the chemicals, said, “We do not manufacture PFAS.” 

But, according to EcoWatch, the company’s lobbyist was recently caught on tape admitting that not only does the company manufacture the forever chemicals that “stay in the environment forever,” making “probably a few hundred million [dollars]” off of it, but they also covertly lobbied to keep it legal through front groups because once “it becomes ‘the ExxonMobil chemical’” then people will talk about how “ExxonMobil is poisoning our waterways,” and at that point, he said, “the debate’s pretty much over.”

It is now time for the Biden administration to make good on their promise and halt any new fracking on federal lands and they must take action to stop the use of PFAS chemicals. 

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