Congress Takes on Secret Chemicals Used in Controversial Gas Drilling Technique

46 members sign on to letter supporting right-to-know proposal aimed at protecting drinking water from drilling chemicals


Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 235

Members of Congress signaled their support for disclosure of secret chemicals used in gas drilling on public lands, signing onto a letter sent today to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Led by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), 46 members of Congress signed the letter. The move was prompted by health concerns posed by the controversial gas drilling technique—known as “hydraulic fracturing”—in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force gas from underground deposits.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice Legislative Associate Jessica Ennis:

“Thanks to an exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act, pushed through during the Bush and Cheney administration, we have virtually no idea what chemicals drillers are pumping underground during the hydraulic fracturing process. But when it comes to chemicals in our drinking water, the American people deserve to know more, not less. The Department of Interior proposal to require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use when fracking on public lands is a crucial step in pulling back this veil of secrecy. The support for the public’s right-to-know, championed by Congressman Hinchey, Congresswoman DeGette, Congressman Polis and echoed by their colleagues is invaluable—as is their tireless work to restore drinking water protections for communities all over the country that have been placed in harm’s way by rushed and irresponsible gas development.”

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