Today, the Senate is voting on amendments to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. The bill itself, bill number S. 1, is a bad piece of legislation. It pushes the Keystone XL pipeline through – a pipeline that will harm our climate, threaten aquifers and harm nearby communities. Luckily, President Obama has already threatened to veto this ill-conceived bill.
While S. 1 is legislation that I wish wasn’t coming up for a vote, there is a small silver lining. The debate around the Keystone XL pipeline has allowed concerned Democratic Senators to bring up other energy issues and offer good amendments that would help better regulate the oil and gas industry.
One of these amendments, offered by Senator Gillibrand of New York, would close a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows the oil and gas industry to inject known hazardous materials — unchecked — directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies.
This exemption from the SDWA has become known as the “Halliburton loophole” because it is widely perceived to have come about as a result of the efforts of Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force. Before taking office, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton — which patented hydraulic fracturing in the 1940s, and remains one of the three largest manufacturers of fracking fluids.
While fracking is constantly in the news and communities around the country are dealing with the negative impacts of drilling on a regular basis, it has been almost a decade since Congress actually voted on this important issue.
Please take action now and tell your Senator to support amendment #48 to S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act. Tell them that the oil and gas industry should be required to follow all of our environmental laws – just like other industries do. It is important for your Senator to weigh in supporting clean water and communities, and not special hand outs for energy companies.
Voting for a good amendment to a bad bill might seem like a waste of time (something Congress would of course never do) but it’s an important political strategy. Help build momentum to close the Halliburton loophole, write your Senator today!