BREATHE and FRESHER acts would close significant clean air and water loopholes
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Saying that the rapid expansion of fracking in Colorado has outpaced the ability of state regulators to monitor health and environmental impacts, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO.) is calling for federal legislation to protect the safety and the health of the communities where the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process is already taking place.
“New technologies have led to the rapid development of hydraulic fracturing in Colorado and Pennsylvania before community members could fully understand the potential health, safety, and quality of life implications of drilling in their neighborhood,” Polis said, explaining that two new related laws would make sure that fracking is not exempt from the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act simply because fracking was not prevalent when these laws were initially written.
“These bills update health and safety protections that have traditionally had strong bi-partisan support and ensure gas industry accountability,” Polis said.
“The lack of oversight and permitting of storm water in the oil and gas industry represents a danger to the nation’s waterways and other key assets. This is especially true in areas where hydraulic fracturing has increased in prevalence,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA). “Both of these pieces of legislation are common sense and I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get on board.”
Currently, oil and gas operators are exempt from the fundamental requirements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and numerous other environmental laws designed to protect health and safety.
The BREATHE and FRESHER Acts would ensure that the fracking industry is subject to the same standards other industries must comply with as part of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, Polis and Cartwright said.
The BREATHE Act would ensure that we close the oil and gas industry’s loophole to the Clean Air Act’s aggregation provision, in addition to adding hydrogen sulfide—a chemical associated with nausea, vomiting, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat—to the Clean Air Act’s federal list of hazardous air pollutants.
The FRESHER Act would reverse the construction and operations exemption for oil and gas companies in the Clean Water Act for storm water runoff permits and mandate a study to fully understand the effects of these operations on surface water.