For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 237

Bill Would Protect Drinking Water From Toxic Chemicals

Bill seeks to close "Halliburton loophole," requires oil and gas companies to follow the Safe Drinking Water Act

WASHINGTON -  A bill introduced today by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO),
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
would protect drinking water from toxic chemicals often used during oil
and gas drilling. A companion bill also was introduced today in the
Senate by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act
would close a loophole that has exempted oil and gas companies from
complying with critical requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act
since 2005, after the oil and gas industry successfully lobbied for the
exemption. It remains the only industry unregulated by a provision in
the Safe Drinking Water Act which monitors underground injections near
drinking water sources.

While drilling for oil and gas, companies often times inject
millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into underground rock
deposits to force the oil and gas to the surface. The technique, known
as hydraulic fracturing (or hydrofracking) is used in nine out of 10
oil and gas wells in the United States and is suspected of endangering
drinking water supplies throughout the country.

The following statement is from Sean Babington, legislative associate for Earthjustice:

"We applaud Congresswoman DeGette and Congressmen Polis and Hinchey,
and Senators Casey and Schumer for introducing this important
legislation. This is a vital step in protecting public health, which
was given a backseat to oil and gas industry profits after big oil
received an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the 2005
Energy Bill. Although many deficiencies remain from the 2005 bill,
we're pleased the so-called 'Halliburton loophole' may now be closed.

"We shouldn't put oil and gas companies' profits over the protection
of our drinking water. All other major industries must comply with
provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Oil and gas companies should
not be the exception. Nothing is more important to a family than being
able to trust that clean drinking water is coming out of their faucet.
This important legislation, if enacted, would give millions of
Americans those critical protections. This bill is a flexible, common
sense proposal that restores balance to an energy policy that was
tilted heavily in favor special interests for the past eight years."

Read the legislation (PDF)


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Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.

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