Legislation introduced to close oil and gas loopholes in environmental laws

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to close gaping loopholes for the oil and gas industry in two of our bedrock environmental laws.

First, the FRAC Act (its formal name is the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act) would ensure federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The FRAC Act, in other words, would close the notorious Halliburton Loophole. The FRAC Act was introduced in the House by Representatives Diana DeGette, Maurice Hinchey, and Jared Polis, and many other Representatives are co-sponsoring the bill. In the Senate, the FRAC Act was introduced by Senators Robert Casey and Charles Schumer, along with six other Senators.

In addition to the FRAC Act, legislation has been introduced in the House to close the toxic loophole for hazardous air pollutants in the Clean Air Act. The BREATHE Act (Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act) was introduced by Congressmen Jared Polis, Maurice Hinchey and Rush Holt. The BREATHE Act would ensure that the oil and gas industry has to abide by the same restrictions on toxic air pollutants, like cancer-causing benzene, as any other industry. The BREATHE act also adds hydrogen sulfide to the list of toxic air pollutants limited by the Clean Air Act. Under current law, hydrogen sulfide, although known to be fatal, is not legally considered to be "hazardous."

The oil and gas industry has been able to play by its own rules for too long. Updating of the rules is long overdue. Our laws should reflect the enormous boom in oil and gas drilling in more than 30 states, and the new technologies that are available to industry to operate using safer and cleaner methods. 

Please write to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to co-sponsor both the FRAC Act and the BREATHE Act. NRDC makes it easy for you to write to your representatives in Washington on our website.