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- Mar 16, 2010
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US EPA Nails Fracker With Record Fine
Read more at EPA Nails Fracking Company With Record FineThe woes just keep piling up for Chesapeake Energy. The company is front and center in the nations natural gas fracking boom and it just got hit with one of the largest ever civil penalties for violating Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The penalty was levied against its subsidiary, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC.
Wait, what? We thought the fracking industry was notoriously exempt from the Clean Water Act, thanks to a loophole engineered back in 2005 by former Vice President (and former Halliburton oil company executive) Dick Cheney.
So, howd they do that?
Fracking And The Clean Water Act
Fracking is an unconventional gas and oil drilling method that involves pumping vast quantities of a chemical brine deep underground, to shake deposits loose from shale formations.
Though natural gas is billed as a clean alternative to coal and oil, fracking has been linked to a raft of local pollution issues, and emissions of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) from drilling sites may be wiping out any advantage that natural gas has as a fuel.
The Clean Water loophole makes it almost impossible to gather direct evidence that traces fracking to a growing list of water contamination episodes, though the link between fracking waste disposal and earthquakes is becoming beyond dispute.
Under the Obama Administration, the EPA has been doggedly pursuing other avenues to bring fracking companies to account for environmental damage, and one of them is the Clean Water Acts Section 404.
In announcing the action against Chesapeake last week, EPA described the alleged violations like this: