At a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing yesterday — Wait! It’s not as boring as it sounds! — scientists and conservationists asked Congress to plug legislative loopholes that exempt oil and gas companies from some regulatory oversight. Particularly of interest to green and health advocates are exemptions from regulation of a natural-gas-gleaning process that injects toxic chemicals into the ground near potential drinking-water sources, and regulation of storm-water discharge from properties under construction. Witnesses, some of whom testified about health problems, also called for public disclosure of chemicals being used at drilling sites. For Big Oil’s part, a rep from the Independent Petroleum Association alleged that — are you sitting down? — environmental laws were created to address large sources of pollution such as manufacturing, and oil and gas drilling sites are too small to have to comply.

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