REPORT: Focus inside the oilfield for near term reuse of oil and gas industry wastewater

Statement from Holly Pearen, Senior Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund

April 26, 2017
Kelsey Robinson, (512) 691-3404,

The Oklahoma Water Resource Board (OWRB) Produced Water Working Group today issued a report evaluating options for recycling the massive volumes of toxic, briny wastewater generated by the oil and gas industry.

The Working Group was convened by Governor Fallin to address seismic activity — which can result from the common practice of pumping wastewater into underground disposal wells — and chronic water scarcity.

The report suggests the most viable way to recycle wastewater is to reuse it within the oil and gas industry. Treating oil and gas industry wastewater for use outside of the oil field is not economical, nor are the environmental and health risks well understood. 

Statement from Holly Pearen, Senior Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund

“There is still so much we don’t know about how toxic this wastewater is, and what the long term risks of exposure might be. The report makes it clear that we need more data and more toxicity research to fully understand the health and environmental impacts of reusing wastewater outside of the oilfield. Until that research is completed, using the oil and gas industry’s wastewater for uses outside the oilfield could cause more problems than it aims to solve.

“The Oklahoma Water Resources Board and its working group deserves credit for taking a thoughtful approach to a complex challenge. Now it’s up to state regulators, industry and researchers alike to put these recommendations into action.”

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