Former Bush official states Halliburton Loophole for hydraulic fracturing is too broad and should have allowed for EPA regulation

Last week I blogged about a quote in a ProPublica article from the former Bush Administration official who was in charge of EPA's drinking water program, Benjamin Grumbles. Regarding a controversial report on hydraulic fracturing issued by the Bush Administration's EPA, Mr. Grumbles stated: "We never construed it as a clean bill of health.” This report has been used by many, including politicians as well as the oil and gas industry, to justify a 2005 loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act that exempts hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation, known as the Halliburton Loophole.

This week ProPublica published an enlightening follow-up interview with Mr. Grumbles. Among his statements in the interview:

  • He didn't feel the exemption was necessary, and feels that it was broader than it should have been.
  • The 2004 EPA report shouldn't be the basis for a perpetual, never-ending legal loophole for hydraulic fracturing.
  • He had suggested "safety net" language in the legislation that created the Halliburton loophole, such as allowing for regulation if a problem developed, and was disappointed that it was not included.
  • He feesl there are increasing data and community concerns related to hydraulic fracturing  and supports EPA's plan to "revisit the issue, to gather all of the facts and to do an even more comprehensive assessment."