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The House Appropriations Committee Republicans today rejected an amendment I offered along with Congresswoman Nita Lowey that would have prevented natural gas industry executives from serving on what is supposed to be a neutral federal advisory panel on shale gas drilling.  The Lowey-Hinchey amendment would have eliminated report language authored by House Republicans that would force the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to have at least one-third of the members on the newly-created Natural Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board be shale gas industry representatives.

Federal advisory boards are supposed to be unbiased, impartial bodies that advise our agencies, but almost everyone who currently serves on the shale gas advisory panel has direct financial ties to the oil and shale gas industry. Now the Republican majority is calling for an even greater bias by requiring that one-third of the panel work directly on behalf of the shale gas industries. This isn't an honest effort to give industry a seat at the table. Instead, it's a blatant attempt to rig the decisions of  the panel in favor of industry and against the safety and security of our environment, drinking water and public health.

We offered the amendment during a markup of the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill and it was rejected by the Republican majority on the Appropriations Committee in a party line vote.  Currently, the DOE has filled six of the seven panel slots, including the chairman position, with individuals who have financial ties to companies involved with hydraulic fracturing operations.  The Republican measure would require the DOE to replace or add panel members with individuals who are employed by the very shale gas industry the panel is supposed to independently assess.

A number of recent reports and incidents are raising serious concerns about hydraulic fracturing. A study by researchers at Duke University found a statistically significant correlation between methane contamination of drinking water wells and their proximity to shale gas drilling sites. On April 20th of this year thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid spilled into the Susquehanna River watershed, following a major fracking well blowout in Leroy Township, PA.

Here is the text of the amendment we offered:

Pages 99 and 100, strike ‘‘The Committee is concerned that the selected panel members will not adequately represent industry perspectives, and therefore will not foster a spirit of partnership among industry, environmental, and governmental parties. In order to strengthen these partnerships and industry support for any subsequent recommendations, no less than one-third of panel members should be industry representatives who actively work in the shale gas industry. Further, the’’ and insert ‘‘The’’.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for the work you do. (8+ / 0-)

    This egregious over-reach by the GOP should be on everyone's radar. Hope you can get wider media coverage on this. Fracking is being pushed so hard and so fast by the Energy cos. while the environmental consequences are only barely becoming known to the general populace.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 03:04:49 PM PDT

  •  This is being crammed down (6+ / 0-)

    America's throat and it is frightening.

    These people have to be stopped.

    REPEAL the Telecomm Act & REVIEW this decision. NO journalist should be fired because their boss can't have the truth told.

    by lunachickie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 03:41:20 PM PDT

    •  Include it in every amendment you can...don't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      let them off the hook.  I'd sure like to hear the White House position on what Republicans are doing to promote hydrofracking when the health hazards are such a very clear and a present danger, a true threat to national security.  Destroying our irreplaceable aquifers and fresh water bodies should never be permitted, literally.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 06:44:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rep. Hinchey, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I grew up in your district, and my parents have always been your constituents. I appreciate your stewardship of New York State and am continually impressed with your work.

    Thank you SO very much for your efforts regarding natural gas drilling/hydrofracking regulation, and wish you Godspeed in your endeavours. It impacts my life hugely: I live on a little 2 acre island of land surrounded by an ocean of farmland under gas leases. If my well is contaminated by methane gas or fracking chemicals, everything my husband and I have worked toward for over 30 years will be ruined. I am petrified by the possibilities :(

    "What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death." - Eugene Victor Debs

    by DianeNYS on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 04:05:18 PM PDT

  •  They are in lock step (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OHdog, antirove

    Just read this today:

    "In 2001, Cheney's 'energy task force' had touted the benefits of hydrofracking, while redacting references to human health hazards associated with hydrofracking. Halliburton, which was previously led by Cheney, reportedly earns $1.5 billion a year from its energy operations, which rely substantially on its hydrofracking business."

    In 2005, at the urging of Vice President Dick Cheney, Congress created the so-called 'Halliburton loophole' to clean water protections in federal law to prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating this process, despite serious concerns that were raised about the chemicals used in the process and its demonstrated spoiling and contamination of drinking water."

    The influence of Cheney and the Bush administration lives on and will continue to be peril to us all.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Wed Jun 15, 2011 at 05:42:56 PM PDT

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    Please keep the pressure on.  The industry is just getting started in the northeast.  PA and NY waters are at great risk.

    Let them eat hope and change.

    by Athena on Fri Jun 17, 2011 at 05:16:00 PM PDT

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