Dems unveil 'strongest anti-fracking bill' for federal land

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A pair of Democratic House members introduced a bill Wednesday to ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, commonly known as fracking, on federal land.

Reps. Mark PocanMark PocanHouse Dems urge enforcement of Colombia trade deal Teachers union: Trump's comments encourage school bullies Republicans attack persuader rule MORE (D-Wis.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) touted the measure as the “strongest anti-fracking bill” ever introduced. It would cover national parks, Bureau of Land Management property, national forests, wilderness areas and other lands under federal jurisdiction.

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“Our national parks, forests and public lands are some of our most treasured places and need to be protected for future generations,” Pocan said in a statement announcing the bill on Earth Day.

“It is clear fracking has a detrimental impact on the environment and there are serious safety concerns associated with these type of wells,” he said. “Until we fully understand the effects, the only way to avoid these risks is to halt fracking entirely.”

“Our public lands have been preserved and protected by the federal government for over one hundred years,” Schakowsky said. “We owe it to future generations to maintain their natural beauty and rich biodiversity.”

Environmentalists have long been concerned that fracking, in which fluids are injected at high pressure into the ground to extract oil and gas, can harm groundwater, soil and air, and cause earthquakes.

Pocan and Schakowsky introduced a similar bill at the end of 2014.

The pair has taken other measures to crack down on fracking, including pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate fracking’s impact on groundwater.

The bill was introduced just over a month after the Interior Department, the federal government’s main land management agency, unveiled new regulations for fracking on federal land.

Greens and Democrats complained that the rule fell short and did not rein in fracking to the extent necessary to protect the environment.

Oil and gas drillers also opposed the rule, saying its restrictions are not justified, and they have sued to have it overturned.

“Congress must follow Congressman Pocan and Congresswoman Schakowsky’s bold leadership and ban fracking on these lands, so that future generations can enjoy these special places,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, said in a statement.