Hydraulic fracturing raises concerns over water in Western U.S.

Despite persistent concerns about its effects on groundwater, the practice of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracing”) appears likely to receive an exemption from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act in legislation under consideration by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Fracing involves pumping highly pressurized fluids deep underground, forcing oil and natural gas to rise to the surface, where it can be slurped up and sold by companies like Halliburton, for which it generates about $1.5 billion a year. A recent EPA review judged the practice safe, but a whistleblower, 32-year agency veteran Weston Wilson, said the review did not use established procedures and relied on a panel composed largely of energy-industry personnel. Democrats tried to attach amendments to the legislation — one would require a real scientific investigation of the practice — but they were defeated on party-line votes. After all, as Halliburton argued in a legal brief, regulation “could have significant adverse effects on its business.” Can’t have that.