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More Seek Limits on Hydraulic Fracturing

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It seems resistance to the practice of hydraulic fracturing – also known as fracking – is growing. Many are concerned that the chemicals used in this gas and oil drilling process could contaminate water supplies with toxic chemicals.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some lawmakers have proposed stiffer restrictions on hydraulic drilling. In June, congressional Democrats introduced legislation that would regulate fracturing at the federal level for the first time. The bills remain in committee. In October, the House of Representatives formally asked the Environmental Protection Agency to study the risks posed by fracturing. Several states, including Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York, have either passed or are considering tightening regulations on fracturing and related activities.

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting water, sand, and a cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into rock formations thousands of feet below the surface. This opens existing fractures in the rock and allows gas to rise through the wells. According to a recently released report from the Environmental Working Group, distillates from hydraulic drilling include kerosene, mineral spirits and a number of other petroleum products that often contain high levels of benzene, a known human carcinogen that is toxic in water at even minuscule levels.

The group found that fracking has already been linked to drinking water contamination and property damage in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. Even so, Congress in 2005 exempted hydraulic fracturing, except fracturing with diesel fuel, from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The exemption followed lobbying by Halliburton and other energy companies, the Environmental Working Group said.

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