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March 16th, 2011

Congress Relaunches Frack Attack

Members of the House and the Senate have reintroduced bills to regulate fracking. This is a good step towards protecting consumers from the dangers of hydraulic fracturing and eventually banning it altogether.

Members of the House and Senate have reintroduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, otherwise known as the FRAC Act. Now that the natural gas industry seems to have a solid foothold in the Marcellus Shale region, as well as in the Southwest, federal lawmakers are still attempting to regain some oversight and transparency in fracking operations. But will this third attempt to establish legislation that would properly regulate fracking be enough to ensure safety and protect essential resources, particularly for those who live close to drilling sites?

On the House side, U.S. Reps. and Colorado Democrats Diana DeGette and Jared Polis are making their second attempt to establish legislation for hydraulic fracturing. Joined by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and 29 other Members, they are hoping to undo the mess created by the infamous “Halliburton Loophole,” unofficially brought to you by former Veep Dick Cheney, which created an exemption for fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act. If you think that exemption was a cheap move, you’re not alone — so does a former Bush-administration EPA water administrator, aptly named Benjamin Grumbles.

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., along with seven other Senators, has reintroduced the FRAC Act on the Senate side, as well, in order to establish tougher regulations for fracking.

Here’s what legislators are hoping to accomplish by passing the FRAC Act…

● Close the loophole that allows fracking to be exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
● Require natural gas companies to reveal the chemical ingredients used in fracking.
● Establish regulation of chemical disclosure at the state level, primarily enforced by the EPA.
● Strengthen laws that protect water supplies from the potential dangers of fracking.

But not everyone believes that establishing legislation would be enough to prevent fracking from threatening public health and safety. Food & Water Watch supports a national ban on fracking. Why a ban?

Polis got it right:

“There is a growing discrepancy between the natural gas industry’s claim that nothing ever goes wrong and the drumbeat of investigations and personal tragedies which demonstrate a very different reality.”

We believe that the discrepancy to which Polis refers has been growing for quite some time. It’s the recognition of that “very different reality” that led to our call for a national ban. But, the FRAC Act is a necessary measure that offers a bare minimum of protection until we can ban the process altogether.

-Rich Bindell

UPDATE:
Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, Maurice Hinchey of New York and Rush Holt of New Jersey have introduced new legislation that will attempt to remove industry exemptions under the Clean Air Act. The Breathe Act, which stands for “Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects,” would eliminate hydrogen sulfide’s exemption from laws concerning air pollution. So, Democratic lawmakers are using both the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act in their efforts to establish strict regulations for fracking.

One Comment on Congress Relaunches Frack Attack

  1. Dear People, Did you scan the March 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, the ‘Radical Power Issue” about flying wind turbines that might solve our energy crisis someday?Well, if the U.S. Naval Laboratory invented a method to manufacture jet fuel from sea water using carbon dioxide and electricity from the nuclear power generators on aircraft carriers, then couldn’t we modify oil tankers and old deepsea oil drilling rigs with such flying turbines to exploit the unlimited electricity from the tradewinds, to mass produce jet fuel using the unlimited CO2 from our coal-burning electric power plants and electrically-catalysed sea water? Or it could simply catalyse sea water into Hydrogen and Oxygen for our proposed Hydrogen power futures? The point is, we GOT to develop clean energy alternatives other than those options that pollute our environment. Technically, we don’t have truly clean water anywhere in the world, and things like fracking CAN make it worse.

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