This week, natural gas producer Cabot Oil & Gas took after one of the primary positions of the anti-fracking movement — that hydraulic fracturing is wrongfully exempt from all federal regulations, especially the Safe Drinking Water Act — and called it a lie.
The so-called “Halliburton Loophole” stems from a time when Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, was the Vice President of the United States. In 2005 a bipartisan majority of Congress passed an exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act for hydraulic fracturing.
To the anti-fracking community this exemption is often held up (such as in the documentary GasLand) as a devious way by which Halliburton and other natural gas industry heavyweights used their influence (through Cheney) to exempt natural gas producers from adhering to the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, allowing gas producers to use potentially dangerous chemicals in the fracking process, without federal oversight.
Untrue, argues a recent Cabot blog post.
It argues that the 1974 Act was designed to protect public health by regulating the US public drinking water supply, and had nothing do with natural gas development or specifically hydraulic fracturing, which takes place thousands of feet underground, well below water tables.
This legislation exemption did not give the oil and gas industry a free pass from regulation; instead, it reaffirmed that individual states are the primary regulators and absolute authorities of oil and gas development, as they have been for more than 60 years. The 2005 exemption merely clarified this position.
A simple explanation.
Something tells me that there are concerned citizens, wary of fracking, who don’t think the story is quite as clean and simple as the one that the Cabot folk are presenting.