By Timothy Cama - 12/11/14 12:40 PM EST
A House Democrat introduced a bill aimed at prohibiting hydraulic fracturing for oil or natural gas on federal land.
The bill, which advocates call the strongest federal anti-fracking bill to date, is aimed at a controversial oil and gas recovery technique that environmentalists say can harm groundwater, drinking water, flora, fauna and air quality. Drillers, leasing public land, pump sand, water and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to recover more oil and gas from shale.
“As we learn more about fracking’s impact on the environment and people living near fracking wells, one thing is clear, the process can be harmful and the effects are not fully understood,” Pocan said.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) co-sponsored the bill with Pocan.
“We owe it to our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, to ensure the protection of public lands,” Schakowsky said in a statement. “This bill — in banning fracking on those lands — helps us follow through on that important promise.”
Fracking is currently allowed on federal land, though the Interior Department is working on new regulations that would update federal standards to better take fracking into consideration and ensure it is done safely.
Environmentalists cheered Pocan’s bill.
“Our public lands are pristine, sacred places that must be protected from the destructive process of fracking,” said Kate DeAngelis, the climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Rep. Pocan’s bill would be a step forward in preserving our unique wilderness spaces from fossil fuel extraction.”
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, said fracking is “inherently dangerous.”
“In light of the dismal track record that the oil and gas industry has on protecting the environment, the only way that public lands can be protected is by banning fracking,” she said.