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Bill to Repeal Fracking Exemption in Safe Drinking Water Act Introduced

March 11, 2011

A bill to repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing (also called “fracking”) contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act was introduced in the United States Congress on March 15, 2011. The exemption, passed in 2005, ignores mounting evidence that fracking poses serious threat to drinking-water sources and to human health. The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act of 2011 would make it law that corporations involved in hydraulic fracturing must disclose all chemicals used in fracking operations, with the exception of proprietary information.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that involves injecting millions of gallons of water, chemicals, and sand particles underground to crack open rock formations and release natural gas and oil for collection. A recent New York Times investigation revealed that wastewater from fracking operations containing high levels of radioactive contaminants is being released into waterways supplying drinking water.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and a similar version was introduced in the House of Representative s by U.S. Representative Diana DeGettte (D-CO). We hope this bill passes. Success could lead to the adoption of policies by the government and corporations to protect public drinking-water sources and the environment from fracking hazards.

As part of its shareholder-advocacy program, UUSC has co-filed shareholder resolutions with ExxonMobil and Chevron, requesting that they disclose known and potential environmental impacts of their fracturing operations to the public. The resolutions also urge that policy options above and beyond regulatory requirements and existing efforts be adopted to reduce or eliminate hazards to air, water, and soil quality from fracturing operations.

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