Just days ago, 46 members of Congress wrote a letter in support of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s request that natural gas companies be required to disclose what chemicals they use in the controversial natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
During this process, “millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well” (Gasland).
In 2005, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act, even though the EPA has agreed that it is associated with drinking water pollution in many states.
“Oil and gas companies continue to assure us that their drilling projects are safe,” DeGette said in a written statement. “But those same companies refuse to back up their assertions by disclosing the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.”
“For too long the Bush Administration let big oil dictate the rules and undercut basic safeguards,” said U.S. Rep. Polis. “I applaud Secretary Salazar’s common sense approach, restoring a much-needed balance in our energy policy. Wherever hydraulic fracturing occurs, public lands or off, we must ensure that the appropriate oversight is in place so we can tell if and when dangerous chemicals are being used, endangering water sources and the public’s health.”
The letter was a response to a Jan. 4 letter from 32 others – including Denver-area Republican Mike Coffman – that asked Salazar to put on hold any plans to regulate fracking fluids (Durango Herald).
Colorado Democratic Reps. Jared Polis and Diana DeGette along with Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., co-sponsored the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act in 2009, only to see it languish in the overall gridlock over energy policy and climate-change legislation (Colorado Independent).
Image Credit: Flickr - Marcellus Protest