Safe Water Drinking Act Extension to Oil and Gas Exploration Hydraulic Fracturing

Safe Water Drinking Act Extension to Oil and Gas Exploration Hydraulic Fracturing

A common practice for onshore oil and gas exploration and extraction is to use a process called hydraulic fracturing, whereby fluids are pumped into a well at extremely high pressures in order to “fracture” the well.  In so doing, the well’s output per minute can increase up to ten fold.  But the fracturing fluids pumped into the ground are trade secrets.  They are believed by environmentalists to contain high quantities of toxins even at low doses.  Even though these fluids are mostly water, because they are pumped by the hundreds of thousands of gallons, some are concerned that even trace quantities of hazardous chemicals may be damaging to water supplies.  In a 1998 Federal court ruling, it was determined that the Safe Water Drinking Act by definition should apply to hydraulic fracturing of coal bed methane gas wells.  However, in 2005, the U.S. Congress reversed that decision when it wrote special exclusions for the oil and gas industry’s practices of hydraulic fracturing into the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Cry Wolf Quotes

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program is intended to manage the disposition of wastes into geologic repositories. Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technology that has been used for more than 50 years over a million times. It has been regulated for decades by states and never posed an environmental risk. It is essential to the development of American natural gas and oil. There are no environmental benefits to additional federal regulation.

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Independent Petroleum Association of America, Testimony, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

I am here today to address the proposition that two provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005--that being section 327 concerning hydraulic fracturing, and section 328 regarding stormwater--have resulted in harm to drinking water resources in the United States. The evidence would strongly suggest otherwise. These two provisions simply removed unnecessary administrative burdens on the production of oil and natural gas in the United States.

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David E. Bolin, deputy director of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama, Testimony, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.

Elimination of sections 327 and 328 [of the Safe Water Drinking Act] would not make production of oil and natural gas in the United States any safer, but could substantially increase domestic oil and natural gas production costs, thereby decreasing domestic supply.

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David E. Bolin, deputy director of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama, Testimony, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.