Bill would close ‘Halliburton Loophole,’ allow EPA to regulate fracking
In an effort to better protect the nation’s water supply, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced legislation Thursday to close a notorious loophole in the law that has prevented the federal government from regulating a highly controversial drilling process known as “fracking.”
The legislation – known as the FRAC Act – would, for the first time, require fracking companies to publicly disclose the chemicals they are pumping into the ground. It would also give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the process going forward.
“The American people are sick and tired of living in a system that allows these oil and gas companies to do as they please,” DeGette said. “Some of the chemicals these companies are pumping into the ground are highly toxic and could cause real harm to people’s health if they get into our water supply. We should be doing everything we can to protect the public from the threat posed by these dangerous chemicals, and this bill will finally give the EPA the power to do that.”
If approved, DeGette’s bill would close a loophole that was created in 2005 when then-President George W. Bush signed into law a bill that included a provision to exempt hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The provision, which was included in the bill at the behest of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who before becoming vice president was the CEO of Halliburton – the company that invented the fracking process – stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate fracking and is known, today, as the “Halliburton loophole.”
DeGette’s bill would close the so-called Halliburton loophole and give the EPA the authority to regulate the fracking process going forward.
It was one of five bills DeGette and others introduced Thursday to address the growing environmental and public health concerns related to the fracking process – which, collectively, have been dubbed the “Frack Pack.”
In addition to DeGette’s FRAC Act, the other four bills introduced Thursday as part of the Frack Pack – all of which DeGette is either a sponsor or cosponsor of – are:
- The CLEANER Act, which would make oil and gas companies responsible for cleaning up and disposing of hazardous waste that comes from their operations
- The FRESHER Act, which would mandate a study on the effects of stormwater runoff from oil and gas operations.
- The BREATHE Act, which would decrease toxic air pollution that comes from oil and gas exploration and production activities
- The SHARED Act, which would require testing for water contamination near fracking sites.
A copy of DeGette’s FRAC Act is available here (https://degette.house.gov/sites/degette.house.gov/files/DEGETT_014_xml.pdf).