Environment America Praises Reps. Cartwright and Polis for Introducing Bills to Cut Air and Water Pollution from Fracking

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C.—Today Congressman Matt Cartwright (Penn.) and Congressman Jared Polis (Colo.) introduced two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives to close loopholes in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act for fracking operations.

“Fracking causes a wide range of environmental and health problems, including air and water pollution. But, instead of following the same rules every other major industry is supposed to follow, fracking operations have been exempt from our landmark health and environmental protections for years,” said Shelley Vinyard, federal clean water advocate for Environment America. “Today, we're finally taking a step in the right direction by closing these loopholes.”

Hydraulic fracturing operations, common known as “fracking,” are exempt from key provisions of our nation’s environmental laws. The two bills introduced today—titled the “Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects”, or BREATHE Act, and the “Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater Runoff through Hydrofracking Environmental Regulation,” or FRESHER Act—build on a long-standing effort to close another loophole that exists for the oil and gas drilling industry in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Specifically, the BREATHE Act, introduced by the two Congressmen and at least 32 co-sponsors, would close a loophole in the Clean Air Act that currently allows the oil and gas industry to release large amounts of dangerous pollution into the air, and lists hydrogen sulfide as a hazardous air pollutant. The FRESHER Act, introduced by Congressmen Cartwright and Polis and at least 37 co-sponsors, would close a loophole in the Clean Water Act that exempts the oil and gas industry from permitting requirements for industrial stormwater runoff.

Just this week, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed increases in mud, silt, and total suspended solids in rivers and streams downstream of gas drilling and production operations, demonstrating an even greater need for the FRESHER Act than previously known.

In states experiencing intensive drilling such as Pennsylvania and Colorado, industry-friendly administrations have left air, water, and public health vulnerable to pollution from dirty drilling. Last year, PennEnvironment’s report, Risky Business, documented thousands of violations by drilling operators.

”Here in Pennsylvania, our state officials are failing to protect our health and environment from the dirty drilling boom,” said Erika Staaf, clean water advocate for PennEnvironment. “Congressmen Polis and Cartwright are offering urgently needed federal protection for our air and our water.”