Congressman Matt Cartwright

Representing the 17th District of Pennsylvania
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Cartwright, Polis Introduce Legislation to Hold Fracking Industry Accountable

Mar 14, 2013
Press Release

Legislation Would Protect Our Water and Air

WASHINGTON –  Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) have introduced the Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydraulic Environmental Regulation (FRESHER) Act and Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effect (BREATHE) Act, in order to ensure that the oil and gas industries follow the same rules that other industries do in preserving our natural resources. This legislation is focused on ensuring the safety and the health of the communities where processes such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are already taking place.

“The lack of oversight and permitting of storm water in the oil and gas industry represents a danger to the nation’s waterways and other key assets. This is especially true in areas where hydraulic fracturing has increased in prevalence,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright. “Both of these pieces of legislation are common sense and I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to get on board.”

"New technologies have led to the rapid development of hydraulic fracturing in Colorado and Pennsylvania before community members could fully understand the potential health, safety, and quality of life implications of drilling in their neighborhood,” said Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). “Through the BREATHE Act and the FRESHER  Act, we want to make sure that fracking is not exempt from the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act simply because fracking was not prevalent when these laws were initially written. These bills update health and safety protections that have traditionally had strong bi-partisan support and ensure gas industry accountability.”

Currently, oil and gas operators are exempt from the basic protections we are afforded by the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and numerous other environmental laws designed to protect our health and safety. The BREATHE and FRESHER Acts would ensure that the oil and gas industries are subject to the same standards other industries must comply with as part of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws.

The FRESHER Act would reverse the construction and operations exemption for oil and gas companies in the Clean Water Act for storm water runoff permits and mandate a study to fully understand the effects of these operations on surface water.

The FRESHER Act has the following original co-sponsors including: Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Gerry Connolly, Donna Edwards, Raul Grijalva, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, James Moran, Jan Schakowsky, Keith Ellison, Mike Quigley, Zoe Lofgren, Niki Tsongas, Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Mark  Pocan, Alcee Hastings, Jerrold Nadler, Jared Huffman, Grace Meng, Bill Keating, Mike Capuano, Nita Lowey, Jim Langevin, Adam Smith, Chris Van Hollen, John Sarbanes, Paul Tonko, Louise Slaughter, John Yarmuth, Robert Brady, Chaka Fattah, Alan Grayson, Betty McCollum, Allyson Schwartz, Sam Farr, Eric Swalwell, Judy Chu, Steve Cohen, Chellie Pingree, Alan Lowenthal and Gary Peters.

The following organizations have endorsed this legislation and are actively working to garner support within Congress and throughout the country: Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Trout Unlimited, Greenpeace, American Rivers, NRDC, National Audubon Society, Wilderness Workshop, National Parks Conservation Association, Penn Environment, Earthworks, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, Los Padres Forest Watch, Center for Effective Government, Earthjustice, Environment America, Ecoflight, People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture), Blancett Ranches, San Juan Citizens Alliance.

The BREATHE Act would ensure that we close the oil and gas industry’s loophole to the Clean Air Act’s aggregation provision, in addition to adding hydrogen sulfide—a chemical associated with nausea, vomiting, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat—to the Clean Air Act’s federal list of hazardous air pollutants.

The BREATHE Act has the following original co-sponsors including: Reps. Rush Holt, Raul Grijalva, John Sarbanes, James Moran, Mike Quigley, Earl Blumenauer, Gerald Connolly, Zoe Lofgren, Michael Honda, Paul Tonko, Barbara Lee, David Price, Carolyn Maloney, Michael Capuano, Mark Pocan, Jim McDermott, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alcee Hastings, Keith Ellison, Niki Tsongas, William Keating, Adam Smith, James Langevin, Chellie Pingree, Judy Chu, Louise Slaughter, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Meng, Janice Schakowsky, Nita Lowey, Jared Huffman, Gary Peters and Alan Lowenthal.

The following organizations have endorsed this legislation and are actively working to garner support within Congress and throughout the country: Physicians for Social Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Sierra Club, Earthworks, Breast Cancer Action, Clean Water Action, Environment America, Greenpeace, Nature Abounds, Oil Change International, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Citizens for Huerfano County, Clean Water Action Colorado, Erie Rising, Grassroots EnErgy activist Network, Holy Terror Farm, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, SOS Foundation, Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County, Western Slope Conservation Center and Wilderness Workshop.