The Halliburton Loophole

The Halliburton Loophole

Vice President Dick Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton, managed to include a special provision for fracking in the 2005 energy bill. That provision eliminated the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate hydraulic fractured gas drilling, or  fracking, which Halliburton invented in the 1940s.

Fracking has been blamed for numerous water pollution cases and is especially controversial in New York, where pro-fracking advocates seek to drill in the New York City watershed, potentially contaminating the City’s water supply for nine million people.

An agency study in 2004 was widely criticized as politically motivated. Congress has approved a bill that asks the EPA to conduct a new study on the risks of hydraulic fracturing, demanding “a transparent, peer-reviewed process.”

Another bill, called the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, seeks to close the Halliburton Loophole, granting authority to EPA to regulate fracking and to require the industry to disclose the chemicals used in fracking.

The industry counters that the chemicals are proprietary secrets; to reveal them would damage their competive advantage in the marketplace. Companies also claim that fracking is so safe that to regulate it would harm efficient production.