House Call on the FRAC Act

Sen. Casey asks Colo. congresswoman to help him make the case for jobs-killing anti-HF bill in Philadelphia paper – EID takes a closer look

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) represents the only congressional district in Colorado where hydraulic fracturing technology is not currently used; Philadelphia represents the only major city in Pennsylvania where the geology suggests it’s likely the technology will never be used.

So of course it made perfect sense for Rep. DeGette to choose the Philadelphia Inquirer to lodge her latest broadside against the 60-year-old energy technology known as hydraulic fracturing, teaming up with FRAC Act battery mate and Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey (D) on a column that does its level best to tie onshore natural gas exploration to the oil spill in the Gulf – notwithstanding the fact that hydraulic fracturing had nothing to do with the incident offshore.

But for those who continue to oppose the generations-old, 1.1-million-served-and-counting procedure of “fracking” a well, admitting to that fact would be tantamount to letting a once-in-a-lifetime crisis go to waste. After all: Opportunities to re-write a 37-year-old statute for the explicit purpose of assigning EPA unprecedented new authority over something that’s always been regulated by the states don’t come along every day. Rep. DeGette, a perennial FRAC Act introducer, knows it – and Sen. Casey likely does too. So maybe that’s why their column on hydraulic fracturing in Tuesday’s paper includes three separate allusions to the spill in the Gulf – three references in a column that only runs 580 words.

We’ll get to the errors in that piece in just a second. But let’s start by giving credit where credit’s due: Nowhere in the op-ed do Sen. Casey and Rep. DeGette attempt to advance the notion that fracturing was previously regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, but now – magically – is not. The reason, presumably, is that it’s not true. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped folks like Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) from peddling their own alternate reality in support of the FRAC Act.

In Hinchey’s world, EPA had been regulating hydraulic fracturing for 30 years right up until Dick Cheney rammed through legislation in 2005 that “exempted” the procedure from federal oversight.  But wait, that bill had the support of nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate? Wait, hydraulic fracturing had never in its history been regulated under SDWA prior to 2005, or after it? Wait! Did Rep. Hinchey just tell a committee of Congress that a nurse in Colorado “died after being exposed to fracturing fluids” – even though that’s not true? Of course he did. Silly to sweat the details when no one holds you accountable for them.

Again, to their credit, the inaccuracies found in Tuesday’s DeGette/Casey column can be considered minor compared to the whoppers that Hinchey and his friends let fly just about every week. But they still should be considered. Below we identify and correct just a few:

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