Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Florida may soon become the fourth state with a law on the books enforcing hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) chemical disclosure. The Florida House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee voted unanimously (11-0) on March 7 to require chemical disclosure from the fracking industry. For many, that is cause for celebration and applause.
Fracking for oil and gas embedded in shale rock basins across the country and world involves the injection of a 99.5-percent cocktail of water and fine-grained sillica sand into a well that drops under the groundwater table 6,000-10,000 feet and then another 6,000-10,000 feet horizontally. The other .5 percent consists of a mixture of chemicals injected into the well, proprietary information and a “trade secret” under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which current President Barack Obama voted “yes” on as a Senator.
That loophole is referred to by many as the “Halliburton Loophole” because Dick Cheney had left his position as CEO of Halliburton - one of the largest oil and gas services corporations in the world – to become Vice President and convene the Energy Task Force. That Task Force consisted of the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation and Energy. One of its key actions was opening the floodgates for unfettered fracking nationwide.
Between 2001 and the bill’s passage in 2005, the Task Force held over 300 meetings with oil and gas industry lobbyists and upper-level executives. The result was a slew of give-aways to the industry in this omnibus piece of legislation. On top of the “Halliburton Loophole,” the bill also contains an exemption for fracking from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The federal-level response to closing the ”Halliburton Loophole” is the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, a bill that never garnered more than a handful of co-sponsors.
Introduced as the “Fracturing Chemical Usage Disclosure Act” on Feb. 13, bill sponsor Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-76) told The Palm Beach Post the day the bill passed in Subcommittee that there is ”every indication … at some point in the future” that fracking will proceed in the Sunniland Shale basin and that being “proactive” is the way to go. A senate companion bill was also introduced as SB 1028 by Sen. Jeff Clemons (D-27) and if the bill passes in both chambers, it will be labeled SB 1776.
What Rodrigues didn’t mention: the law was written by what investigative journalist Steve Coll referred to as a “private empire,” ExxonMobil.
Like its federal-level predecessor, it still contains the “trade secrets” loophole. It’s also a model bill distributed both by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), asfirst revealed by The New York Times in April 2012, and the Council of State Governments (CSG), as first revealed here on DeSmogBlog.
FracFocus Façade: Sunshine State’s Copy-Paste and Disaster-in-the-Make