Congress Should Close the Halliburton Loophole
Hydraulic fracturing should be regulated under the
Safe Drinking Water Act
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Only one industry in the U. S. can legally inject known toxins directly into sources of drinking water without federal regulation, but as early as this week, legislation may be introduced in Congress to overturn the exemption granted to Big Oil by the 2005 Congress at the urging of Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO
Hydraulic fracturing (FRACKing) is a technique that was developed by Halliburton. Millions of gallons of fresh water, mixed with sand, and often containing a witch’s brew of cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are injected under high pressure miles down the drilling hole to fracture the underground formation and release the oil and gas trapped within. Ninety percent of all U.S. oil and gas wells undergo hydraulic fracturing to stimulate the production of oil and gas.
These chemicals can be lethal! Last month 16 cattle died a gruesome death when a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluid landed in their pasture.
Yesterday, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Hinchey that she believed her agency should review the risk that fracturing poses to drinking water in light of various cases across the country that raise questions about the safety. Some of those cases are detailed in a 2 page hydraulic fracturing FACT SHEET developed by Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil and Gas Accountability Project and Western Organization of Resource Councils to help counter Big Oil’s 14 page “Response to Allegations” document sent to our Congress Members.
The following key points from the fact sheet prove there is no legitimate reason to keep this exemption:
1. Closing the Halliburton Loophole would not shut down drilling or mandate a burdensome new permit process.
2. Closing the Halliburton Loophole would not require disclosure of proprietary trade secrets or confidential business information.
3. Closing the Halliburton Loophole would provide a minimum federal standard to prohibit drinking water contamination and shine a light on hydraulic fracturing.
The domestic drilling agenda has expanded the number of U.S. wells enormously. There are already hundreds of thousands of wells in 34 states from New York to California, and hundreds of thousands of more wells are anticipated—each one involving the use of toxic chemicals.
Our Congress people, especially the House Energy and Commerce Committee members, are under tremendous pressure from industry to retain the exemption. They need to hear from us!
Below is a sample letter you can edit and personalize. Please send to these committee members:
Gene Green (D-TX)
202-225-1688 or 202-225-9903
Charles A. Gonzalez (D-TX)
202-225-3236 or 202-225-1915
The other committee members from Texas are not likely to vote for citizens over industry, but if you feel like burning up some time their contact information is here
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative _____________,
I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor and support legislation that would regulate hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas under the Safe Drinking Water Act and require disclosure of the chemical constituents of hydraulic fracturing fluids to public agencies.
Communities around the country have already experienced the environmental damage and health risks caused by hydraulic fracturing during the oil and gas drilling boom. These fluids often contain highly toxic chemicals, some of which remain underground. Fracturing is highly variable and unpredictable, and can lead to unintended consequences, such as contamination of drinking water. The right balance needs to be established between oil and gas development and our precious resource of water. Instead of that balance, the current exemption in federal law only benefits Halliburton and a handful of other companies, at the expense of the health and safety of our communities.
We need federal standards to prohibit endangerment of our drinking water and protect its purity. This would not shut down drilling or require disclosure of proprietary trade secrets or confidential business information; instead it will put the oil and gas industry on the same playing field as other businesses that must comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Please support any legislation to close the Halliburton loophole and regulate hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act. I look forward to your response.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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