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House Subcommittee Discusses Water Infrastructure in Climate Legislation

Members of Congress expressed concern about the economic impact of the Biden Administration’s “CLEAN Future Act” during a House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing on Tuesday. The hearing focused on provisions addressing drinking water infrastructure.

Proposed drinking water standards could affect several industries, and specific sections directly target the energy sector. One section requires hydraulic fracturing operations connected with underground sources of drinking water to submit to new monitoring and testing to identify potential contamination. Another section would end the exemption for oil and gas exploration and production wastes, and reclassify drilling fluids, produced water and other wastes as hazardous. These changes would impose costly new burdens on the industry and compliance would be both complicated and expensive. 

Several members of the Energy & Commerce Committee worried the legislation would result in job losses, drops in revenue, and hurt the environment by disincentivizing development of cleaner energy production. 

“Federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing and underground injection of carbon dioxide will not make water safer,” said Energy & Commerce Ranking Member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5). “It will, however, create a powerful disincentive for hydraulic fracturing and CCUS. This will make us a less secure, more economically dependent society going forward — whether from our government or foreign nations. And it could sideline emissions reduction technology.”

Additionally, committee members are concerned that new drinking water rules, paired with the extensive new regulations found throughout the CLEAN Future Act, would end hydraulic fracturing in the US. 

“Tucked into title XIX of the “CLEAN Future Act” are multiple proposals that if enacted could amount to a ban on hydraulic fracturing across the country,” Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) said. “The American people need, deserve and must have clean water. We all agree on that and we should do everything we can to ensure that. But they also deserve affordable and reliable energy, not to mention the thousands of essential consumer products, medical devices, clothing and other conveniences that are all made from petrochemicals.”

While the hearing was solely focused on drinking water, this sweeping legislation could have major impacts on the energy services industry.  The Council continues to advocate against the overreaching new regulations and standards proposed in this bill. 

If you are interested in the Council’s advocacy efforts or would like to join the Government Affairs Committee, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.

Deidre Kohlrus, Director Government Affairs, writes about industry-specific policies for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.


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