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Washington, D.C., Apr 28 — The current draft of the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA), made public today, would add another special oil and gas industry loophole to federal environmental law. CICA, legislation that aims to “reform” the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), would block states and localities from requiring the oil and gas industry to reveal the toxics they inject through the water table during hydraulic fracturing. The legislation would also prohibit states or localities from regulating or banning toxic chemicals used in the drilling and fracking process, such as benzene and diesel fuel.

As hydraulic fracturing has facilitated the extraction of shale oil & gas across the country, affected states and communities have increasingly required some form of public disclosure of the chemicals used during fracking.

“Oil and gas industry apologists in Congress have sunk to a new low,” said Lauren Pagel, Policy Director for Earthworks. “This toxics reform legislation risks public health in favor of energy industry profits. It would undo even modest efforts by states to protect and inform the public about fracking risks.”

Nationwide, toxic fluids and waste from fracking are polluting our air and water and making nearby residents sick.  There are more than one thousand documented instances of fracking-enabled oil and gas development contaminating water – from the residential wells in Dimock, PA to the more than 400 waste pits that have leached into groundwater in New Mexico alone. 

Last week Baker Hughes Inc., one of the nation’s three major hydraulic fracturing service companies, promised to disclose all chemicals they use in fracking

“It’s obvious that there’s no compelling reason to hide fracking chemicals behind a ‘trade secrets’ claim,” said Lauren Pagel. She continued, “Baker Hughes’s promise makes clear that the purpose of this bill is to hide fracking toxics from the public, not protect trade secrets from competitors.”

But the oil and gas lobby has rebuffed efforts to close the loopholes that exempt their drilling operations from key provisions of federal environmental laws – maintaining that the states know best when it comes to regulation of oil and gas. 

“Fracking is a major toxic threat to our air and water,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America.  “Yet the Shimkus TSCA bill belies the utter hypocrisy of the industry’s ‘states-first’ positioning by stripping away the ability of state and local governments to rein in the toxic pollution from dirty drilling.”