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Heritage, Koch Brothers Pressure Lawmakers To Support Fracking Oversight Bill

By Emily Atkin

"Heritage, Koch Brothers Pressure Lawmakers To Support Fracking Oversight Bill"

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Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX).

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX).

CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The House is likely to vote Wednesday on HR 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, which would prevent the federal government from having control over hydraulic fracturing in states that have their own fracking regulations.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) introduced the bill in July as a response to draft rules from the Obama administration attempting to regulate fracking, a controversial method of extracting fossil fuels. Those draft rules would require oil and gas companies to make sure that fluids from the fracking process aren’t contaminating groundwater, and mandate that those companies have management plans for large volumes of wastewater that flows back to the surface throughout the fracking process.

The bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Obama has already pledged to veto the bill if it comes to his desk. However, the bill has become a symbol for conservative groups, which are urging lawmakers to support it or face low scores on their so-called “legislative scorecards.”

On Tuesday, the conservative Heritage Foundation announced its support for the bill, and added that it would be a “key” vote for their legislative scorecards, which rate the conservativeness of lawmakers. The group called federal regulations over fracking “overly burdensome to states,” and said federal rules would come “without any meaningful environmental benefit, since [fracking] has proven to be safe.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the lobbying group that represents many large businesses and trade associations, also announced on Tuesday that it would include the bill on its own annual “How They Voted” scorecard of federal lawmakers. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is not justified in adding regulation to fracking, the group said, since “the nation has benefited from the efficient extraction of oil and natural gas from producing states and tribal lands while also protecting human health and the environment.”

Top climate scientists disagree, most recently sending a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown to issue a fracking moratorium because of carbon emissions, groundwater contamination, and the massive amount of water required to frack a well. Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch once described the process as “a giant pipe bomb four or five miles underground.”

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity, backed by billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, also recently praised the bill. According to an article in The Hill, the group’s manager of federal affairs Christine Harbin Hanson wrote to Rep. Flores on Monday in support of his attempt to “protect the natural gas revolution that is improving Americans’ access to affordable energy.” The group is increasingly working to gain political influence, spending a staggering $122 million in 2012 — more than the total amount the group had cumulatively spent in the last eight years — in an attempt to defeat President Obama’s reelection bid.

The bill can be read in its entirety here.

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