Thursday, June 23, 2005

The energy "go f*** yourself" bill...

..because there can be little doubt Dick Cheney and his oil buddies were involved in authoring the energy bill.

I got an email today from the Gulf Restoration Network asking for help fighting some nasty environmental stuff in the energy bill now before the Senate.

The Clean Water Network has a fact sheet on the pro-polluter provisions of the energy bill.

From the looks of it, this isn't an energy bill as much as it is a "f*** you" bill:

The Clean Water Act requires all construction activities that disturb greater than one acre of land to take steps to control erosion, prevent significant sedimentation of streams, and avoid pollution of drinking water as well as harm to aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife. However, the oil and gas industry lobbied the House to exempt them from these "stormwater" requirements for their construction activities. This means that the oil and gas industry would not be required to have Clean Water Act stormwater control permits for constructing roads, drill pads, pipeline corridors, refineries, compressor stations, and other facilities. There is no reason to exempt oil and gas companies from pollution controls that other construction activities are required to follow.

The current version of the Senate bill does not contain the House's unwarranted exemption for stormwater runoff for oil and gas construction sites. However, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) may offer an amendment on the Senate floor that would match the House exemption.

Please ask your Senators to oppose such an amendment, and let them know that: (1) The water quality of nearby lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands is threatened by sediment and other pollutants in stormwater run-off that pours off oil and gas construction sites and into these waters. (2) EPA states that an average of 30,000 gas construction activities start each year. (3) There is no reason to exempt oil and gas companies from Clean Water Act pollution controls that other construction activities are required to follow.

Senator Inhofe (R-OK) is also considering offering an amendment to the Energy Bill that would exempt a toxic cocktail of chemicals used in oil and gas drilling from safe drinking water regulations. This amendment, like a provision already in the House Energy Bill, would say that these hydraulic drilling fluids are not to be considered "contaminants" under the Safe Drinking Water Act--even though that is exactly what they are. Please ask your Senators to oppose any amendment to exempt these fluids from federal regulations because: (1) Hydraulic fracturing fluids, including toxic chemicals such as diesel fuel, may be injected directly into or leak into underground sources of drinking water during oil and gas development to prop open fractures. (2) Exempting the discharge of these toxic fluids into groundwater would endanger drinking water sources and threaten public health. (3) It is critical that the federal government retains the ability to enact safeguards to ensure that hydraulic fracturing does not degrade water quality.

There is also a provision in the House bill exempting oil and chemical companies from product liability due to MTBE contamination of drinking water. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Senate won't allow this in their version of the energy bill, but who knows!

As for hydropower, the House bill allows dam owners the right to sidestep federal regulatory agencies, making up their own rules on the environment. The Senate version gives citizens an opportunity to appeal new rules, but then gives the hydropower companies the right to veto proposed alternatives.


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