CFROG Supports Legislation to Eliminate Oil and Gas Toxic Waste Loophole

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D Pa.) has introduced the Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations (CLEANER) Act along with Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2). The legislation, introduced with 43 co-sponsors and endorsed by CFROG and 136 other organizations from across the country aims to eliminate a hazardous waste exemption that was added onto the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1980. That amendment, which exempted oil and gas companies from having to comply with hazardous waste disposal standards, would be removed under the CLEANER Act, forcing oil, gas and geothermal companies to play by the same rules as other industries.

“Under current federal law, oil and gas companies do not even have to test their waste to see if it is toxic, leaving us with no way of knowing what is being disposed of and how it is being treated. It is time oil and gas companies comply with existing minimum standards and oversight,” said Cartwright.

“The CLEANER Act will better protect the public and the environment from hazardous waste produced by the oil and gas industry,” Congressman Huffman said. “We need to close this loophole so that oil and gas companies play by the same rules as everyone else.”

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 requires the safe disposal of solid waste and hazardous materials. In 1980, RCRA was amended to exempt waste from the production and development of oil and natural gas (“exploration & production” waste) and geothermal waste.

“RCRA is meant to protect the public and the environment from hazardous waste. Toxins pose health and environmental risks no matter what industry produces them. It’s time to hold oil and natural gas producers to the same standards that other industries have complied with for over 30 years,” said Cartwright.

The task of regulating disposal of these wastes is currently left to states, with mixed results. Recent articles have shown the extent of the problem and highlight the potentially fatal consequences.

"For too long now, the oil and gas industry has taken advantage of the American public by securing exemptions from many of our nation's commonsense health and environmental safety laws. Closing these loopholes is the only way we can protect the air we breathe and the water drink. Representative Matt Cartwright's legislation to hold toxic pollution from drilling and fracking up to the same standards as other industrial poisons is an important place to start,” said Mike Brune, Executive Director of The Sierra Club. “It is a courageous move to put the health and well-being of the American people before the financial interests of the nation's wealthiest corporations, and the Sierra Club stands beside Representative Cartwright."

"It's clear to everyone that the 1.3 billion gallons of fracking waste generated in Pennsylvania over the last few years, which is often laced with numerous toxins and cancer-causing chemicals, is hazardous to our health and environment," said Adam Garber, PennEnvironment Field Director. "The CLEANER Act will ensure that companies can no longer spray this toxic fluid on our roads, dump hundreds of thousands of gallons into water treatment facilities, or use it to water cattle. We applaud Congressman Cartwright for trying to make the law follow what we all already know: fracking wastewater is hazardous to our health."


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