Why did the gas industry lobby for and succeed in getting an exemption from the Clean Water Act?

We’ve been asked on occasion whether the natural gas industry — specifically hydraulic fracturing — earned an exemption from a series of federal laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, as part of the bipartisan 2005 energy bill. The short and factual answer is no.

Hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under this law. Fracturing, however, is tightly regulated by state environmental agencies. In fact, the bipartisan 2005 energy bill, which simply clarified the scope of the Safe Drinking Water Act as it relates to fracturing (again, that states – not the federal government – regulate this technology) earned the support of 74 U.S. senators [including then-Sen. Barack Obama] and 275 members of the U.S. House, including 75 Democrats.

EPA clearly states on their website that:

Disposal of flowback into surface waters of the United States is regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The Clean Water Act authorizes the NPDES program.

To recap: the tightly-regulated development of clean-burning American natural gas is safe, proven and aggressively regulated. That said, our industry is committed to ensuring we’re leveraging the best practices and most environmentally-proven technologies available. The protection of our air and water is not only in our business interest, but most importantly, we live, work and raise our families in these communities and have an unmatched commitment to protecting our environment to generations to come.

For a chart on hydraulic fracturing regulation at every stop of the process, click here.