Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to redefine "diesel fuel" so it can expand regulations in natural-gas drilling. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce claims the measure is necessary to "protect human health" from fuels used in hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects high-pressure fluids and sand into shale formations deep beneath the Earth's surface to tap natural-gas reserves.
U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman (Calif.), Edward Markey (Mass.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), and Rush Holt (N.J.) sent a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson this week, in which they contend that hydraulic fracturing providers are circumventing the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and using diesel fuels without regard to concerns about groundwater contamination.
The 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracing" (pronounced "fracking"), from SDWA. Known as the "Halliburton loophole," this provision releases fracing fluid from regulations unless it contains diesel fuel.
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