On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that will block the Department of the Interior (DOI) from regulating fracking in states that already have regulations in place. The bill, H.R. 2728, passed the House in a 235 – 187 vote. Twelve Democrats voted in favor of the legislation and two Republicans voted against it.
“Hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by states for decades,” said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), according to The Hill. “So the Obama administration’s proposed regulations are unnecessary.”
On Tuesday, Hastings added a last-minute amendment to another piece of oil and gas industry-friendly legislation that was also passed by the House on Wednesday. His amendment to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act cuts government funding for renewable energy projects by 50 percent.
“No one can show where states are dropping the ball [on fracking regulations],” said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), the representative who introduced the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act.
In fact, many Americans have heard of instances across the country in which residents have been adversely affected by the fracking process. Just last week, a group of Oklahoma residents filed a class action lawsuit against nearly 50 companies for contaminating their drinking water and land.
Residents of Bokoshe, Oklahoma discovered that fracking wastewater from a fracking operation in Arkansas was being trucked to a coal ash dump site near their town. The toxic waste dumped at the site contaminated residents’ drinking water and has caused adverse health effects including cancer, respiratory conditions, and skin irritations in residents living near the dump site.
Also last week a Texas man was sued for defamation by a Ft. Worth fracking company that contaminated his drinking water supply with benzene and methane. Steve Lipsky, a resident of Weatherford, Texas, sued Range Resources in 2011 after discovering a gas build-up inside his well and finding that the water coming from his well was highly-flammable.
The conservative judge presiding over Lipsky’s lawsuit against Range Resources dismissed Lipsky’s claims, but allowed the fracking company that polluted Lipsky’s and his neighbors’ water supplies to continue with a counter-suit. Lipsky now faces a $3 million defamation lawsuit by Range Resources for posting a video on YouTube of his well water catching on fire.
Across the country, individuals have faced contamination of their water supplies and land, and have experienced adverse health effects from fracking operations. Some families have even been forced to settle in court with fracking companies that contaminated their water supplies in order to be able to afford to relocate or truck in fresh drinking water for their families. Many of these families have been forced to agree to a gag order as part of their settlements.
In addition to eliminating federal fracking regulations, the House on Wednesday gave the oil and gas industries another gift. Representatives passed the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, which will make it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands, cut funding for renewable energy projects in half, impose a $5,000 fee on any individual who wishes to oppose a drilling project, and require the Department of the Interior to begin leasing for the development of oil shale, one of the dirtiest fuels on earth.