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house Bill H.R. 4007

Should Oil & Gas Companies Have to Get Permits for Stormwater Runoff from Fracking?

Argument in favor

Oil and gas companies have been allowed to skirt around federal environmental safety regulations for far too long. Eliminating amendments that have weakened the Clean Water Act’s ability to regulate these industries is necessary to keep communities safe and ensure clean water for household use.

jimK's Opinion
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09/29/2019
The argument that fracking wastewater runoff has not conclusively been proven to be harmful is bull crap. I would argue that restrictions are required until wastewater runoff HAS BEEN proven not to be harmful. It has not been conclusively proven that being buried alive in a mountain of bull crap would be harmful but I will definitely skip jumping in until it is conclusively proven that it is not. Protect our environment, protect us.
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Hillary's Opinion
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09/29/2019
Water is life. Without clean water all life dies period. Oil companies have all ready proven that they are willing to destroy the planet for a little profit so they absolutely must be legislated into being transparent and honest.
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09/29/2019
Yes. Oil and gas companies must be regulated.
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Argument opposed

There’s not enough evidence to conclusively prove that fracking negatively impacts water quality. Without this, it’s premature for the federal government to change regulations around fracking. Additionally, given fracking’s importance to the U.S. economic competitiveness and national security, it’s important to be careful about placing limitations on this practice.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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09/29/2019
Democratic Environmental Influences in Action Again It Would Seem. There’s not enough evidence to conclusively prove that fracking negatively impacts water quality. Without this, it’s premature for the federal government to change regulations around fracking. Additionally, given fracking’s importance to the U.S. economic competitiveness and national security, it’s important to be careful about placing limitations on this practice. SneakyPete........... 👎🏻👎🏻👿👎🏻👎🏻. 9.29.19..........
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Bob's Opinion
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09/29/2019
They should be allowed to do what they want on their own property and be held responsible if they impact the property of others.
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JTJ's Opinion
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09/30/2019
This is just another political attack on the oil and gas industries.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Water Resources and Environment
    IntroducedJuly 25th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4007?

This bill — the FRESHER Act of 2019 — would eliminate the prohibition on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring a permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for discharges of certain collected, uncontaminated stormwater runoff from mining operations or oil and gas operations. Going forward, oil and gas operators would be required to obtain permits for stormwater runoff (both contaminated and uncontaminated) for all phases of fracking activities (they’re currently exempt from this requirement).

The Department of the Interior would be required to study stormwater runoff associated with oil or gas operations, including an analysis of measurable contamination, groundwater resources, and the susceptibility of aquifers to contamination from stormwater runoff associated with the operations.

This bill’s full title is the Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydrofracking Environmental Regulation Act of 2019.

Impact

States with oil and natural gas; oil and gas industry; hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking); potential groundwater contamination from fracking; EPA; Dept. of the Interior; and the Clean Water Act.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4007

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced this bill alongside the CLEANER Act in order to hold the oil and gas industries accountable to national standards for water and air protection

“Northeastern Pennsylvania is blessed with abundant natural resources, water streams and wildlife, and it’s important that we preserve them for future generations. These bills will close damaging loopholes in current legislation to ensure dangerous pollutants don’t seep into our waterways and our land.”

In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill last Congress, Rep. Cartwright wrote: 

“The preservation of our clean water is one of the most fundamental environmental issues we face in our time, and something which cuts through political divides. Today, however, oil and gas operators are exempted from the basic protections afforded by the Clean Water Act. The effect of this potentially endangers our environment. The FRESHER Act… closes the loophole for oil and gas companies in the Clean Water Act.... [Currently, the Clean Water Act’s] stated goal is hindered by amendments made to the bill in 1987 and 2005, which created exemptions for growing oil and gas exploration projects. These new amendments allow the oil and gas industries to circumvent the laws every other industry follows that protect our waterways despite the fact that 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. Obtaining a permit is a straight forward process, and this bill would only seek to require oil and gas companies to have a plan to protect streams from runoff and acquire this simple permit.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), sponsor of a Senate bill that would give states the sole authority to issue or enforce any regulation, guidance, or permit requirement regarding fracking, argues that hydraulic fracturing is key to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security

“Hydraulic fracturing is critical to our domestic energy production, supporting economic competitiveness and national security. Unfortunately, the federal government has been seeking to burden the industry with red tape, duplicating state regulations, making our energy production more expensive and preventing the United States from achieving greater energy independence."

Rep. Cartwright’s two bills are part of a five-bill package called the “Frack Pack.” This legislative package also includes: 

This legislation — along with the overall Frack Pack — has 55 Democratic House cosponsors in the 116th Congress. It’s endorsed by a number of key environmental organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Endangered Species Coalition.

In the 115th Congress, this legislation had 72 Democratic House cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteCongress exempted oil and gas operations from the requirements to have a permit from stormwater runoff in legislation passed in 1987. It then expanded this exemption in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, extending it to include construction activities related to oil and gas, such as building wellpads, roads and pipelines. 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process to extract underground resources such as oil or gas from a geologic formation by injecting water, a propping agent (e.g., sand), and chemical additives into a well under enough pressure to fracture the geological formation.

Fracking fluid” is the mix of water, sand, and chemicals (including known carcinogens) used in fracking. In 2011, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce published the results of an investigation which found that oil and gas companies “used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are 1) known or possible human carcinogens, 2) regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health or 3) listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.” These 29 chemicals were components of 652 products used in fracking.

Proponents of fracking call it a “commercially viable practice” that has been used for over 60 years. The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), a nonprofit organization with members consisting of state groundwater regulatory agencies that work toward the protection of the United States’ groundwater supply, released a report in 2009 stating that the “current State regulation of oil and gas activities is environmentally proactive and preventive” and concluding that “[a]ll oil and gas producing States have regulations which are designed to provide protection for water resources.” The GWPC’s 2009 study also contended that there’s a lack of evidence that fracking conducted in deep and shallow formations presents a risk to groundwater.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Sean Hannon)

AKA

FRESHER Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study with respect to stormwater runoff from oil and gas operations, and for other purposes.

    The argument that fracking wastewater runoff has not conclusively been proven to be harmful is bull crap. I would argue that restrictions are required until wastewater runoff HAS BEEN proven not to be harmful. It has not been conclusively proven that being buried alive in a mountain of bull crap would be harmful but I will definitely skip jumping in until it is conclusively proven that it is not. Protect our environment, protect us.
    Like (140)
    Follow
    Share
    Democratic Environmental Influences in Action Again It Would Seem. There’s not enough evidence to conclusively prove that fracking negatively impacts water quality. Without this, it’s premature for the federal government to change regulations around fracking. Additionally, given fracking’s importance to the U.S. economic competitiveness and national security, it’s important to be careful about placing limitations on this practice. SneakyPete........... 👎🏻👎🏻👿👎🏻👎🏻. 9.29.19..........
    Like (17)
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    Water is life. Without clean water all life dies period. Oil companies have all ready proven that they are willing to destroy the planet for a little profit so they absolutely must be legislated into being transparent and honest.
    Like (75)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes. Oil and gas companies must be regulated.
    Like (61)
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    Chemicals used in fracking are secret. People whose wells that were impacted by fracking can light their water on fire ergo why wouldn't runoff NOT be restricted? Water is life. It must not be contaminated. Care about the plants, animals and, of course, humans first, not industry.
    Like (47)
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    Please vote YES on the FRESHER Act of 2019. It’s appalling that fracking didn’t require these permits earlier.
    Like (40)
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    Ban fracking, period. But yes, start with lots of permits for anything related to fracking.
    Like (31)
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    Transparency of operations that may produce life-threatening toxins or have ecological system disruption should be evaluated, provided restrictions, and monitored.
    Like (24)
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    Are you joking? Of course. Clean water is the most important thing we need to make sure everyone has access to. And if this is step one, sign me up.
    Like (21)
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    As a person who has been poisoned by lead resulting in vast neurological problems, I can assure you that clean water & environment should be at the top of the list! If you won’t end fracking, then make damn sure the results of fracking do not impose health risks to the people. People over profit.
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    Of course. They should be no different than any other company.
    Like (14)
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    Yes. All industry should pay for all of the expenses that their products have. For too long the oil companies have been able to ignore expenses related to extraction. The EPA had a good start on holding the industry accountable, but the Trump administration, with its gutting of the agency, has rendered it helpless. This legislation will start to help regaining that control.
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    Thank you Joanne. You said it all in 5 sentences. If fracking is poison, why isn't its runoff?
    Like (12)
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    Protect our water and air! Please keep our environment survivable for current and future generations
    Like (10)
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    Yes. This water is hazardous material. Fracking is an environmental nightmare. Companies that started fracking knew it was a problem from the onset, hence they lobbied the government- former President Bush and VP Cheney era - to pass the Halliburton loophole in the regulations which allowed companies to not have to disclose the chemicals being used due to “proprietary” concerns. If people knew what was being pumped into the ground and potentially contaminating water sources, it never would have gotten this far. Plus, a single fracking well consumes on average over a million gallons of fresh water to “fracture” the shale which is mixed with these chemicals.
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    How much pollution can they be allowed to do without restrictions? Please pass this.
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    This should be a part of the industry-to return back to the earth materials the same way they were received.
    Like (9)
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    The permit process will mandate planning and point out shortcomings that need to addressed. Not doing so opens the possibility of disregarding realities that allow for pollution.
    Like (9)
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    Yes. Protect our environment. Safeguard clean drinking water and clean air.
    Like (9)
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    FRACKING IS THE BANE OF THIS COUNTRY. It’s ruining water & environment & also the structural integrity of our world. Kansas & Oklahoma never had an earthquake until FRACKING, since then - ex. 2015 there were 1,010 earthquakes. STOP FRACKING that would save our water from being destroyed- but at least this bill will help
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