The League signed on to a letter asking U.S. Senators and Representatives to cosponsor legislation that would help protect the environment and public health from the risks of oil and gas production including hydraulic fracturing. The set of bills is commonly referred to as the "Frack Pack."


 

March 19, 2015

Dear Member of Congress,

We write to you today to urge you to cosponsor important legislation to help protect the environment and public health from the risks of oil and gas production including fracking (hydraulic fracturing). This set of bills is known as the “Frack Pack.”

Our nation continues to experience a rush of oil and gas drilling largely brought about by advances in fracking. This development often occurs in residential areas, near homes, schools, and playgrounds. Fracking is occurring in about 35 states and, according to The Wall Street Journal, more than 15 million Americans live within a mile of a well that has been drilled since 2000.

Scientific studies have shown that oil and gas development, including drilling, fracking, processing, and ongoing production is linked to hazardous air pollution, contaminated drinking water supplies, and toxic waste. Many of the pollutants released into the environment from these processes are known to cause harm to human health, including pollutants associated with cancer, respiratory diseases, reproductive problems, birth defects, neurological damage, and other serious illnesses.

In spite of these risks, the oil and gas industry has been given unprecedented exemptions from our nation’s bedrock environmental laws. Fortunately, legislation has been introduced to close the special loopholes in four of these statutes: the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Our 92 organizations urge you to cosponsor each one of these important measures. These common sense bills would ensure that oil and gas production and related activities, including drilling and fracking, are held to the same health and environmental standards as other potentially harmful industrial activities. State regulations vary widely but regardless of which state they live in, all Americans deserve to have minimum safeguards that apply to the oil and gas industry.

Please co-sponsor the following bills:

The FRAC Act (H.R. XXX, S. XXX) would close the so-called Halliburton Loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) that exempts fracking from protections for underground sources of drinking water unless diesel is used in fracking fluid. This loophole was created in 2005 by Congress to benefit Halliburton and other fracking companies. It's time to reverse this unwarranted loophole for special interests. The FRAC Act would not ban fracking, mandate a new process, or require disclosure of proprietary trade secrets or confidential business information, but it would allow EPA to protect drinking water from contamination caused by fracking, require disclosure of fracking chemicals to the public, and help guard against earthquakes linked to fracking.

The BREATHE Act (H.R. XXX) closes loopholes in the Clean Air Act (CAA) that allow the oil and gas industry to emit significant amounts of toxic air pollution. Scientific evidence shows that oil and gas-related air pollution could cause major health impacts in communities. This pollution can even harm those who don’t live in close proximity to wells, since some pollutants, like ozone, affect a whole region. The oil and gas industry is exempt from the CAA requirement that the emissions of multiple related sources under common ownership be aggregated to determine total emissions. As a result, closely associated wells and related facilities do not have to meet the same air quality standards for emissions of hazardous air pollution (including volatile organic compounds, smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and carcinogens) that other industries must meet.

The FRESHER Act (H.R. XXX) would close the loophole in the Clean Water Act (CWA) that endangers water quality near oil and gas production activities. The CWA is the foundational law that protects American rivers, streams, wetlands, and other waterways from pollution. Under the CWA, a permit is required for large-scale, ground-disturbing activities that increase stormwater runoff and the risk of water pollution. This important permitting requirement, however, has been waived for oil and gas production, even though the runoff from oil and gas well pads and related infrastructure can be contaminated with dangerous pollutants. Such runoff can and has polluted waterways—degrading water quality and damaging aquatic habitats. There is no reason oil and gas sites should be treated less stringently than industries like real estate development.

The CLEANER Act would close the loophole in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that currently allows toxic wastes from oil and natural gas production to avoid hazardous waste requirements. RCRA requires the safe handling, transport and disposal of hazardous wastes. In the 1980s, however, Congress exempted wastes from oil and gas exploration and production from RCRA’s requirements for toxic waste, even though these wastes contain dangerous substances including benzene, acids, lead and other heavy metals, hydrocarbons including diesel fuel, and radioactive materials. As a result, oil and gas wastes are subject to a patchwork of inadequate state regulations, leading to the widespread mismanagement of these dangerous materials.

The SHARED Act would require testing of water sources near planned oil and gas operations before fracking begins, in order to establish baseline water quality conditions. Baseline testing is essential for an effective water protection regime. Among other things, it is an important tool in determining the source of water contamination and can reduce the costs of investigations. The U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board called for mandatory background water measurements prior to production activity in order to provide an objective baseline for determining if drilling and hydraulic fracturing activity are responsible for water contamination. It is a win-win solution to improving water contamination investigations.

As drilling and fracking continue to expand across the nation, it is time to update the laws that have given the industry a free pass to pollute. The bills in the Frack Pack will help protect communities from the risks of oil and gas development. As Americans grow increasingly concerned about the impacts of this fracking boom, it is more important than ever that we hold the oil and gas industry to the same health and environmental protection standards as other industries. Our organizations urge you to cosponsor these important bills.

Sincerely,

Madeleine Foote
League of Conservation Voters

John Noel
Clean Water Action

Raul Garcia
Earthjustice

Amy Mall
Natural Resources Defense Council

Vanessa Pesec
Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection

Sahru Keiser
Breast Cancer Action

Lauren Pagel
Earthworks

Tim Ream
WildEarth Guardians

Kimberly Baker
Klamath Forest Alliance

Natalynne DeLapp
Epic-Environmental Protection Information Center

Ellen Webb
Center for Environmental Health

Athan Manuel
The Sierra Club

Dusty Horwitt
The Partnership for Policy Integrity

Irma Munoz
Mujeres de la Tierra

Ruben Arvizu
Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society

Irene Vilar
Americas for Conservation and the Arts

Heather Cantino
Athens County (OH) Fracking Action Network

Ted Glick
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Deborah K. Thomas
Shale Test

Jeff Kuyper
Los Padres ForestWatch

Bruce Gordon
EcoFlight

Jill Wiener
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy

Catherine Thomasson
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Bill Snape
Center for Biological Diversity

Navis Bermudez
Southern Environmental Law Center

Kristen Miller
Alaska Wilderness League

Rebecca Roter
Breathe Easy Susquehanna County

Michael J. Painter
Californians for Western Wilderness

George Matthis
River Guardian Foundation

Martha Girolami
Chatham Research Group

Dorie Bolze
Harpeth River Watershed Association

Lora Chamberlain
Frack Free Illinois

Russell S. Donnelly
SouthEast Communities Against Pollution

Melinda Hughes-Wert
Nature Abounds

Matt Walker
Clean Air Council

Seth B.C. Shonkoff
PSE Healthy Energy

David Rogers
Environment North Carolina

Johanna Bozuwa
Earth Day Network

Teresa Méndez-Quigley
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Philadelphia

Jim Ramey
Citizens for a Healthy Community

Cynthia D. Ellis
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

Jason Kowalski
350.org

Briget Shields
Friends of the Harmed

Leatra Harper
Freshwater Accountability Project

Kate DeAngelis
Friends of the Earth

Patricia McPherson
Grassroots Coalition

Katie Huffling
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Barbara Arrindell
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability

Joe Levine
Citizens for Water

Buck Moorhead
NYH2O

Bridget Shields
Marcellus Protest- Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Deb Cowden
Buckeye Forest Council

Carol Kwiatkowski
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange

Julie Edgar
Lehigh Valley Gas Truth

Jessica Jones
League of Women Voters

Jan Milburn
Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens' Group

Jan Milburn
Citizens to Preserve Ligonier Valley

Jay Sweeney
Green Party of Pennsylvania

Jacque Rose
Friends of the Au Gres-Rifle Watershed

Harriet Shugarman
ClimateMama

Kaye Fissinger
Our Health Our Future Our Longmont

Sarah Eckel
Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Meghan M. Boian
American Rivers

Julie Mayfield
MountainTrue

Tracy Carluccio
Delaware River Keeper

Bob LeResche
Western Organization of Resource Councils

Gillian Malone
Powder River Basin Resource Council

Paul Ferrazzi
Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community

Deborah Brown
Riverkeeper

Renee Sharp
Environmental Working Group

Lois Gibbs
Center for Health, Environment & Justice

Steve Charter
Northern Plains Resource Council

Dave Reed
Western Colorado Congress

Amy Adams
Appalachian Voices

Sean Mouton
Center for Effective Government

John Rumpler
Environment America

Bret Fanshaw
Environment Arizona

Dan Jacobson
Environment California

Kim Stevens
Environment Colorado

Chris Phelps
Environment Connecticut

Jennifer Rubiello
Environment Florida

Jennette Gayer
Environment Georgia

Tayrn Hallweaver
Environment Maine

Ben Hellerstein
Environment Massachusetts

Talya Tavor
Environment Maryland

Doug O'Malley
Environment New Jersey

Sanders Moore
Environment New Mexico

Heather Leibowitz
Environment New York

Luke Metzger
Environment Texas

Sarah Bucci
Environment Virginia

Megan Severson
WisconsinEnvironment

David Masur
PennEnvironment