Congressman Matt Cartwright

Representing the 17th District of Pennsylvania
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Cartwright Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Hazardous Oil and Gas Loophole

Dec 10, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright introduced the Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations (CLEANER) Act

The legislation, introduced with 100 co-sponsors and endorsed by 206 organizations from across the country, eliminates a hazardous waste exemption that was added to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1980.  The CLEANER Act would force oil, gas and geothermal companies to play by the same rules as other industries.

“Under current federal law, oil and gas companies do not even have to test the majority of their waste to see if it is toxic, leaving us with no way of knowing what is being disposed of and how it is being treated.  It is time oil and gas companies comply with the minimum standards and oversight that virtually every other industry successfully works with,” said Rep. Cartwright.

The RCRA of 1976 requires the safe disposal of solid waste and hazardous materials.  In 1980, RCRA was amended to exempt waste from the production and development of oil and natural gas (“exploration & production” waste) and geothermal waste. 

Currently the task of regulating disposal of these wastes is left to states, with mixed results.  

“RCRA is meant to protect the public and the environment from hazardous waste.  Toxins pose health and environmental risks no matter what industry produces them.  It’s time to hold oil and natural gas producers to the same standards that other industries have complied with for over 30 years,” said Rep. Cartwright.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the problem as well, recently proposing federal regulations that would address discharges of wastewater pollutants from onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction facilities to publicly-owned treatment works.

"For too long now, the oil and gas industry has taken advantage of the American public by securing exemptions from many of our nation's commonsense health and environmental safety laws.  Closing these loopholes is the only way we can protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.  Representative Matt Cartwright's legislation to hold toxic pollution from drilling and fracking up to the same standards as other industrial poisons is an important place to start,” said Mike Brune, Executive Director of The Sierra Club.  “It is a courageous move to put the health and well-being of the American people before the financial interests of the nation's wealthiest corporations, and the Sierra Club stands behind Representative Cartwright."

"It's clear to everyone that the 1.3 billion gallons of fracking waste generated in Pennsylvania over the last few years, which is often laced with numerous toxins and cancer-causing chemicals, is hazardous to our health and environment," said Adam Garber, PennEnvironment Field Director. "The CLEANER Act will ensure that companies can no longer spray this toxic fluid on our roads, dump hundreds of thousands of gallons into water treatment facilities, or use it to water cattle. We applaud Congressman Cartwright for trying to align the law with what we all already know: fracking wastewater is hazardous to our health."

Current Cosponsors (100): Karen Bass, Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Robert Brady, Suzanne Bonamici, Corrine Brown, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Kathy Castor, Judy Chu, Katherine Clark, Yvette Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Gerald Connolly, John Conyers, Elijah Cummings, Susan Davis, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Suzan DelBene, Mark DeSaulnier, Ted Deutch, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Alcee Hastings, Dennis Heck, Brian Higgins, Mike Honda, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry Johnson, William Keating, Joseph Kennedy III, Derek Kilmer, Ann Kuster, John Larson, James Langevin, Rick Larsen, Brenda Lawrence, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, David Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen Lynch, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, Jim McDermott, James McGovern, Greg Meeks, Grace Meng, Seth Moulton, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Napolitano, Richard Neal, Rick Nolan, Eleanor Norton, Donald Payne, Jr., Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Jared Polis, David Price, Mike Quigley, Charles Rangel, Kathleen M. Rice, Lucille Roybal-Allard, John Sarbanes, Janice Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Bobby Scott, Jose Serrano, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Louise Slaughter, Adam Smith, Jackie Speier, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takai, Mark Takano, Mike Thompson, Paul Tonko, Niki Tsongas, Chris Van Hollen, Juan Vargas, Nydia Velazquez, Maxine Waters, Peter Welch, Frederica Wilson, John Yarmuth

Current Supporting Organizations (207): 350 Bay Area, 350.org, Alaska Wilderness League, Alliance for a Green Economy, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Rivers, Appalachian Voices, Athens County Fracking Action Network, Baldwin Hills Oil Watch, Berks Gas Truth, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Blue Heron Environmental Network Inc., Breast Cancer Action, Breathe Easy Susquehanna County, Buckeye Forest Council, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Bufallo County Defenders, Bus for Progress, Californians for Western Wilderness, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Effective Government, Center for Health, Environment & Justice, Center for Water Advocacy, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizen Shale, Citizens Campaign for the Environment (NY & CT), Citizens Climate Lobby, Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Citizens for Huerfano County, Citizens for Responsible Oil & Gas, Citizens for Water, Citizens to Protect Our Water, Citizens United for Renewable Energy, Citizens' Environment Coalition, Clean Air Council, Clean Energy Action, Clean Ocean Action, Clean Water Action, Clean Water Action New Jersey, Clean Water for North Carolina, ClimateMama, Coalition for a Frack-Free Tennessee, Coastal Monmouth Democratic Club, Committee for Clean Water, Air and Earth, Communities United for Rights and Environment, Concerned Chippewa Citizen, Concerned Citizens Ohio, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Doddridge County Watershed Association, Downwinders at Risk, Earth Day Network, Earth Justice, Earthworks, EcoEquity, EcoFlight, Energy Action Coalition, Environment America, Environment California, Environment Colorado, Environment Connecticut, Environment Georgia, Environment Iowa, Environment Maine, Environment Maryland, Environment Massachusetts, Environment Michigan, Environment Minnesota, Environment Missouri, Environment New Jersey, Environment New Mexico, Environment New York, Environment North Carolina, Environment Ohio, Environment Oregon, Environment Rhode Island, Environment Texas, Environment Virginia, Environment Washington, Environmental Action, Environmental Working Group, Fleased, Food & Water Watch, FracDallas, Frack Files of Weld, Frack Free Illinois, FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio, Friends of Blackwater, Friends of Strouds Run State Park, Friends of the Au Gres-Rifle Watershed, Friends of the Earth, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, Grassroots Coalition, Grassroots Environmental Education, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Greeley, Colorado Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Green Party of Pennsylvania, Greenfaith--Interfaith Partners for the Environment, Harpeth River Watershed Association, Haw River Assembly, High Country Citizens' Alliance, Interfaith Power & Light, Iowa Audobon, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Jesus People Against Pollution, Justice and Peace Task Force of Plymouth United Church of Christ, Labor Network for Sustainability, League of Conservation Voters, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth, Licking County Concerned Citizens for Public Health and the Environment, LNG Opposition Team, Los Padres ForestWatch, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Marcellus Protest, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, Michigan Land Air Water Defense, Mountain Watershed Association and Youghiogheny Riverkeeper, Move to Amend - Grand Rapids, MoveOn.org, Nature Abounds, Neighbors of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River, Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection, New Jersey Sustainable Collegiate Partners, North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, North Fork Ranch Landowner's Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Plains Resource Council, Northjersey Pipeline Walkers, NRDC, Nuclear Energy Information Service, NYH2O, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Oil Change International, Our Broomfield, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, People's Oil & Gas Collaborative – Ohio, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Social Responsibility - Kansas City, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Philadelphia, Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, Plains Alliance for Clean Air and Water, Potomac Riverkeeper, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Powder River Basin Resource Council, Clark Resource Council, and Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, Prairie Rivers Network, Preserve Carolina, Preserve Trempealeau County, Protecting Our Waters, Riverkeeper, Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative, Rocky Mountain Wild, Safe Climate Campaign, San Juan Citizens Alliance, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, SanDiego350.org, Savage River Watershed Association, Save Our Town Whitehall, SaveWithSunlight, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, SLO Clean Water Action, Solaria, SouthEast Communities Against Pollution, Southern Environmental Law Center, Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment, Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, Stand Up Ohio, Stark-Summit Coalition, Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development, Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition, Sustainable Marin, Texas Drought Project, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TDEX), The Shalom Center, The Solution Project, The Wilderness Society, Tour de Frack, U.S. Climate Action Network, United for Action, WATERSPIRIT, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Inc., West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Western Colorado Congress, Western Nebraska Resources Council, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Western Slope Conservation Center, WildEarth Guardians, Wilderness Workshop, Wisconsin Environment, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, WV Citizen Action Group, WV Surface Owners' Rights Organization, Youghiogheny Riverkeeper, Choose Clean Water Coaltion