House Dems push bill to end oil and gas waste exemption

The bill from Cartwright and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) would end a provision of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that excludes waste from exploration and development of oil and natural gas from being covered under the law.

The bill, which has 43 Democratic co-sponsors and also covers the geothermal industry, will likely face roadblocks in the GOP-controlled House. 

Republicans in the lower chamber have taken aim at draft Interior Department regulations governing fracking on federal land and have criticized the Environmental Protection Agency's reviews of possible water pollution from fracking.

While Republicans will likely reject the bill, the measure earned plaudits from green groups for its potential to strengthen regulations on fracking.

“Fracking is an inherently risky process, and this bill would ensure that the toxic waste it produces is covered by the landmark law that governs the safe disposal of hazardous materials,” said Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director with the League of Conservation Voters, in a statement.

Fracking has incited fears of groundwater pollution, though industry contends it’s safe.

The practice involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight-rock formations to access hydrocarbons deep below ground.

— This story was updated at 7:53 p.m. on July 28.