I am pleased to announce that my home state of Florida may soon become the fourth state with a law on the books enforcing hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") chemical disclosure. The Florida House of Representatives' Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee voted unanimously (11-0) on March 7 to require chemical disclosure from the fracking industry. For many, that is cause for celebration and applause.
Currently there is a loophole in the law that allows companies to keep communities ignorant of the chemicals the fracking industry is dumping onto their drinking water.
That loophole is referred to by many as the "Halliburton Loophole" because Dick Cheney had left his position as CEO of Halliburton -- one of the largest oil and gas services corporations in the world -- to become vice president and convene the Energy Task Force. That Task Force consisted of the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation and Energy. One of its key actions was opening the floodgates for unfettered fracking nationwide.
Between 2001 and the bill's passage in 2005, the Task Force held over 300 meetings with oil and gas industry lobbyists and upper-level executives. The result was a slew of giveaways to the industry in this omnibus piece of legislation. On top of the "Halliburton Loophole," the bill also contains an exemption for fracking from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.