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Can We Trust Them on Fracking?

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 — The presidential commission investigating the BP disaster says Halliburton knew before the explosion its drilling cement was faulty but said nothing — raising grave doubts about whether the company is being honest about the danger of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is Halliburton's patented process for injecting huge volumes of chemical-laced fluid into natural gas wells to force deposits to the surface. In 2005, the drilling services company's lobbying opened the Halliburton Loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act, exempting fracking from federal regulation.

Gwen Lachelt, director of EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project, which is working in communities where hydraulic fracturing is suspected of contaminating groundwater or drinking water, said the BP panel's revelation shows that Halliburton's assurances about fracking's safety cannot be trusted. Here is her statement:

Halliburton assured Congress and the EPA that fracking is safe, but that has not been the experience of people who live near natural gas wells in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and other states. Now the presidential commission has confirmed that Halliburton puts its business interests ahead of public health and safety.

The Halliburton Loophole took away federal authority over fracking as asked the American public to trust them with their drinking water and other resources. That trust is obviously misplaced.

That is why it is essential that Congress close this dangerous loophole by passing the FRAC Act, which would restore the protections of the Safe Drinking Water Act to fracking, which is used in 90 percent of all oil and natural gas wells in the nation. The contamination of drinking water by fracking chemicals is a quiet disaster that's happening every day in dozens of American communities, and we can't wait until a big disaster gets our attention to do something. The time to act is now.

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