US Congress May Undo Cheney's "Fracing" Exemption

Congress is looking at undoing a recent and unique oil and gas industry exemption from the Clean Water Act of 1974, created at the urging of former Vice President Cheney. Long story short: drillers are exempt from even telling State or Federal environmental officials what chemical brew they are ramming down their boreholes in the hope of extracting more natural gas or oil. People living near to where hydraulic fracturing or "fracing" takes place are complaining of water well contamination. Associated livestock deaths have been reported. You have to be able to empathize with these people. Drinking really bad tasting water day after day would be like torture. No wonder they have asked their elected representatives to do something.

ProPublica has the full story in it's Natural Gas Politics coverage.

Four years after Vice President Dick Cheney spearheaded a massive energy bill that exempted natural gas drilling from federal clean water laws, Congress is having second thoughts about the environmental dangers posed by the burgeoning industry.

With growing evidence that the drilling can damage water supplies, Democratic leaders in Congress are circulating legislation that would repeal the extraordinary exemption and for the first time require companies to disclose all chemicals used in the key drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing [1].

Per Wikipedia: "The method is informally called fracing (pronounced "fracking") or hydrofracing."

EarthWorksAction has posted an EPA table listing typical components of fracing fluids. It isn't pretty.

Just to give a sense of the seriousness, have a look at such activist blogs as Drilling Reform For Texas, or UCS.

API's position on fracing is explained here.

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