Clinton wants to end ‘Halliburton loophole’ on fracking, adviser says

Clinton wants to end ‘Halliburton loophole’ on fracking, adviser says
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Presidential hopeful Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE would push Congress to reverse a 2005 measure that exempts hydraulic fracturing from certain federal environmental standards, a top adviser said.

Ending what environmentalists call the “Halliburton loophole” would be the Democratic candidate’s first priority in regulating fracking, adviser Trevor Houser said.

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“Congress stripped [the Environmental Protection Agency] of its authorities to protect communities under the Safe Drinking Water Act, something called the ‘Halliburton loophole,’ ” Houser said Wednesday at a Politico event coinciding with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

“We give EPA, under our landmark environmental laws, the ability to protect communities from environmental threats,” he said. “And there should not be a big exemption when it comes to hydraulic fracturing. So that’s our primary focus, on getting that loophole closed and reinstating that authority.”

Clinton said at a March debate that while she would not seek to ban fracking, she would seek strict new regulations on the oil and gas drilling technique.

“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” she said at the time.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE (I-Vt.), her main opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would seek to ban fracking, and often criticized Clinton for her refusal to make a similar pledge.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted the fracking process itself — injecting fluids into oil and natural gas wells to break shale rock formations — from the Safe Drinking Water Act’s provisions regarding underground injection.

It’s labeled the “Halliburton loophole” after the oilfield services company that then-Vice President Dick Cheney led before he came into office.

While it blocks a major authority the EPA would have over fracking, the agency can still use the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other laws to oversee the process in certain circumstances.

Houser conceded that with Republicans likely to retain control of at least the House, any legislative action on fracking would probably be difficult.

Clinton would therefore use her executive authority to crack down on earthquakes, methane releases and other effects of fracking.

“Certainly on seismicity, on methane regs, there are existing authorities that can be used,” Houser said. “We’re going to use every authority that we have to ensure that local communities are protected.”

The oil and natural gas industry disagrees strongly with the characterization of the 2005 law as a “loophole,” and is seeking to protect it, arguing that EPA regulation would be duplicative and burdensome.