We've heard about all of the dangers of hydro-fracturing (aka fracing), and doubtless environmental concerns deserve to be adequately addressed, yet its easy to lose sight of the big picture and to realize that the Marcellus shale and other similar shale gas developments in Louisiana and Texas change everything.
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Comment by Robin Fehrenbach Scala on April 10, 2010 at 8:29pm
Tom
I agree with your explanation as that is how I understand it. It was never covered in the first place so therefore cannot have become an exception.
Comment by Tom Copley on April 4, 2010 at 4:16pm
Bob-- We were not talking about whether SDWA was amended in 2005, but rather whether the 2005 amendment exempted hydro-fracturing since SDWA never covered it in the first place. I have heard it explained that Congress merely met to clarify that fracing was never covered by SDWA, yet it didn't intend to exempt hydro-fracturing from SDWA since no exemption was necessary. If someone else has a different explanation, I'd love to hear it. --Tom
Comment by Tom Copley on April 3, 2010 at 7:48pm
Bob-- It seems like a logical impossibility to me. If hydro-fracturing was never covered by SDWA, yet later exempted by an ammendment to it, then it didn't need to be. I doubt if we yet have the full story. Can anyone else explain this apparent conundrum? --Tom
Comment by Bob Thomer on April 3, 2010 at 7:16pm
Tom
The amendment was signed into law. Believe whoever you want. It doesn't change the fact that to amend something it has to exist first.
Comment by Tom Copley on April 3, 2010 at 4:34pm
Bob-- I looked at the source that you mention. It is a 16 page report by Mary Tiemann of the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service, dated May 3, 2006 entitled "Safe Drinking Water Act: Implementation and Issues". It is a summary of implementation and issues addressed by 109th Congress during 2005. While not the original legislation itself (the bill), it does summarize the Energy Policy Act of 2005, §322. As you mention, it specifically states "amends SDWA to exempt from regulation the underground injection of fluids (except diesel fuel) into underground sources of drinking water for hydraulic fracturing purposes related to oil, gas, and geothermal production. Signed into law on Aug. 8, 2005."

Therefore, given what the Energy In Depth has said about fracturing never being regulated under SDWA in the first place, I would conclude that Ms. Tiemann's report may not have addressed this specific issue, but rather is dealing with the amendment at a summary level. How do you go about exempting something that was never even covered? However, if there is specific wording in the amendment itself mentioning an "exemption", then it may be Congress itself that is responsible for creating any apparent misapprehension. --Tom
Comment by Bob Thomer on April 3, 2010 at 2:22pm
Tom
Read result #2 pg 13 (Safe Drinking Water Act:Implementation and issues)
Sorry I wasn't sure of the link.
Comment by Tom Copley on April 3, 2010 at 1:09pm
Bob-- When I google it, I get

1,910,000 results for "clean water act of 2005"

I'll admit, I have never read the 2005 bill itself, nor am I likely to in the near future. I have relied on an interpretation that I trust. I'm willing to consider what you say, yet please don't send me to google--give me a specific link, as I did for you.

Even if the language of the bill itself mentions an "exemption" (does it?), I agree with Energy In Depth that you can't exempt something that was never covered in the first place.

It will take a better lawyer than me to further clarify this point.

Thanks. --Tom
Comment by Bob Thomer on April 3, 2010 at 10:31am
Tom
Just Google "clean water act of 2005"
P.L. 109-58, H.R.6 (Barton)
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, 322, amends SDWA to "exempt" from regulation the underground injection of fluids (except Diesel) into underground sources of drinking water for hydro fracturing purposes related to oil, gas, and geothermal production.
Signed into law Aug. 8, 2005
This is the law as I read it. Let me know what you think.
Comment by Tom Copley on April 3, 2010 at 12:56am
Bob-- I'm not an expert on this. Perhaps some of the lawyers on the forum will care to comment on it. My source for the info on the WikiMarcellus Chemicals page was an Energy in Depth article. I'm not sure if this was the same article I read, but it says something similar:
FACT
The bipartisan 2005 energy bill, supported by then Sen. Barack Obama, clarified that Congress never intended hydraulic fracturing to be regulated under Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). If Congress ever intended the SDWA to extend beyond its original scope and cover the fracturing of energy wells, it certainly had plenty of chances to make that view known.

Passed in 1974, SDWA has been amended a whopping eight separate times over the past 35 years (’74, ’77, ’79, ‘80, ‘86, ‘88, ’96, ‘05), but at no time during that extended run was the concept of regulating fracturing under the Act a significant component of the debate. And that’s true even though at the time of the bill’s passage in ‘74, fracturing had already been in commercial use for 25 years.

What’s changed in 35 years? Not a whole lot on the technological side, with the notable exception of exciting advancements in horizontal drilling techniques that allow producers today to access 10 times the energy by drilling 1/10 the number of wells.

So again: Fracturing was never regulated under SDWA – and, by that definition, could never have been granted an “exemption.” How can you be exempt from something that never covered you in the first place?
Let me know if you think Energy In Depth is stretching it. --Tom
Comment by Bob Thomer on April 3, 2010 at 12:00am
Tom
Go back and read it again. They are exempt. The Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the underground injection control provision of the safe drinking water act to exclude hydro fracking from the definition of underground injection. Those apples just became oranges. I guess they pour it into the wells instead of injecting it.

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