The Halliburton Loophole
Content taken from Burning Question: What Would Life Be Like Without the Halliburton Loophole:
“The loophole refers to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempts the hydraulic fracturing process, also known as fracking, from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Then Vice President Dick Cheney did have a hand in getting the exemption put into the Energy Policy Act. He chaired President Bush’s Energy Policy Task Force, which recommended fracking be excluded. And Cheney is a former Halliburton executive. Halliburton, by the way, began fracking in the 1940’s to extract for oil. But the use of fracking, combined with horizontal drilling, has only recently been used to mine shale gas.The loophole does have an exception. If drilling companies use diesel fuel to frack a well, they do have to get a federal permit.
Also amended in the 2005 Energy Policy Act was the Clean Water Act. Congress enacted the CWA back in 1972 as a way to regulate discharges into the country’s rivers and streams. The CWA was amended in 1987 to include storm water run-off. But oil and gas production are exempted from those regulations. And in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, those exemptions included oil and gas construction. Environmentalists worry about run-off from well pads, pipelines and construction sites.
Without federal oversight, it’s up to the states to regulate gas drilling.”
“And it’s not just the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act that exempt the oil and gas industry. The Clean Air Act, passed by Congress in 1970, exempts oil and gas wells from aggregation. That means, each well site is considered an individual source of pollutants, and does not take into account all of the well sites in a specific area.
When it comes to the handling of waste water, or frack water, that too is exempt from a federal statute called the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The RCRA tracks industrial wastes from “cradle to grave." But when it comes to the oil and gas industry, as long as the waste water is on the drill site, or being transported, it is not considered hazardous. This also applies to drilling mud. That’s why trucks carrying waste water, which contains high levels of salts, toxic chemicals, as well as radioactive material, may be labeled “residual waste."
The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, requires federal agencies to do environmental impact statements if major industrial projects would impact the environment. But the Energy Policy Act of 2005 relegated oil and gas operations to a less stringent process.
Finally, the Toxic Release Inventory requires industries to report toxic chemicals to the EPA. But the oil and gas industry are exempt from this reporting.”
Read the Complete Energy Policy Act of 2005
State of the Law: Federal, State and Local Regulation of Hydrofracturing, (Kathleen Dachille, JD)