White House favoring Halliburton over clean water

OK, you might want to sit down, because we’ve got a real shocker here: The Bush administration, headed by two former oil executives, one of whom was the CEO of Halliburton, from which he still receives payments, may be pulling strings to help shield the company against environmental regulation. The issue in question is “hydraulic fracturing,” a relatively new technique for extracting oil and gas that generates about a fifth of Halliburton’s energy-related revenue — $1.5 billion a year. Since a group of Alabamans sued in 1995, saying the practice fouled their drinking water and seeking to have hydraulic fracturing regulated under federal drinking-water law, Halliburton has lobbied aggressively to avoid such regulation. The U.S. EPA recently finished a study of the practice, concluding that it is benign, but agency insiders have heaped scorn on the report, saying it was produced by a highly biased panel containing at least one Halliburton employee. One 30-year EPA veteran last week submitted a statement to Congress and the EPA inspector general seeking whistle-blower protection and calling the report “scientifically unsound and contrary to the purposes of the law.”

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