The Halliburton Loophole
To find a clear example of how the revolving door between the public and private sectors has had a negative impact on the health of people and the planet, let’s go back to 2005. Dick Cheney was head of the U.S. Energy Task Force, which was responsible for an energy bill that exempted the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act. Many have referred to this as the Halliburton loophole, and it effectively stripped the EPA’s capacity to regulate the fracking industry. This allowed an industry, which was created in the 1940’s by Halliburton (where Cheney was CEO between his role as Secretary of Defense under Bush senior and his role as Vice President under Bush Jr.), to experience tremendous growth while claiming that there was no evidence that fracking was negatively impacting the safety of drinking water or the health of people living near fracking sites. Because the EPA has been prevented from finding out what chemicals are being used in the fracking process, it has been difficult to make the link between fracking and increased health issues that have popped up around fracking sites.1
A Bridge to Nowhere
The argument that natural gas is a bridge fuel to a more sustainable future is based on the fact that burning methane produces less heat trapping greenhouse gases than burning oil. What the industry fails to mention is that methane leaks into the atmosphere during every phase of the fracking process: from production to processing, storage and distribution. According to a study conducted in April, 2011 by leading scientists at Cornell University “fracked gas has a greater greenhouse gas impact than oil and may well have as much of a warming impact as coal when the two energy sources are examined over an extended life cycle.”2 This is because methane traps 21-34 times more heat than CO2 over the course of its life in the atmosphere, and again, the fracking process is very leaky. To help put an end to this climate-change accelerating, cancer-causing, aquifer-polluting method of methane extraction, click here to sign a petition telling Governor Brown to put a moratorium on fracking in California.