By Ben Geman - 02/23/10 05:48 PM EST
Markey – who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee – and Waxman asked the companies for information about chemicals they use and potential health and environmental harms.
A big 2005 energy bill exempted the practice from Safe Drinking Water Act regulation, and natural gas producers are lobbying vigorously to keep the exemption intact during the Democrats’ reign. “We are going to gather the facts about what is going on and then make decisions consistent with the evidence,” Markey said when asked about seeking to overturn the exemption.
The drilling practice – dubbed “fracking” – involves high-pressure injections of chemicals, water and sand to break apart rock formations. Environmentalists fear that fracking will contaminate water supplies. The industry contends it is safe, and that overlaying new federal requirements on state-level rules would be costly and discourage gas production.