Congress Mulls Tighter Offshore Drilling Rules

Natural-gas firms currently exempt from clean-water laws
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2009 10:27 AM CDT
Congress Mulls Tighter Offshore Drilling Rules
In this photograph taken April 15, 2009, a worker heads to a tractor-trailer owned by Halliburton, and being used in the drilling of a well for natural-gas producer Williams in Rulison, Colo.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A bill pushed by Dick Cheney 4 years ago freed natural-gas drillers from clean-water laws, but pollution concerns are driving congressional Democrats to rethink the matter, ProPublica reports. They’ve drafted legislation that would end the natural-gas exemption and require drillers to reveal the chemicals they use in their work, some of which can lead to cancer.

“The regulatory loophole for hydraulic fracturing puts public health at risk and isn't justified,” said Rep. Henry Waxman. “The current exemption for the oil and gas industry means that we can't even get the information necessary to evaluate the health threats from these practices.” But proponents of the new bill are meeting resistance: “it could make a very significant difference in delivering a fuel that is fundamental to economic health,” said an American Petroleum Institute analyst.
(More natural gas stories.)

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