EPA Finds Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water, GOP Releases Payroll Tax Bill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft analysis yesterday showing that the groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming is contaminated by chemicals used nearby in natural gas fracking. 

The EPA has been investigating the area for three years  because of complaints by residents. The agency detected synthetic chemicals commonly used in fracking, and hydrocarbons, benzene and methane levels well exceeded Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

At the direction of Congress, and separate from this ground water investigation, EPA has begun a national study on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

"Today, EPA released preliminary findings that raise additional questions about the scientific basis for exempting hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act," says Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"These draft findings reinforce the need for state and federal regulators to ensure that hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells proceeds with the strongest possible safeguards in place to protect public health and the environment," he says.

Tar Sands Pipeline Attached to Payroll Tax Cut Bill, Among Others

House Republicans released their legislation today to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.

The bill reduces the payroll tax cut, and the number of weeks for unemployment insurance, and allows states to do drug testing for anyone that receives it, among other requirements. It also cuts almost $35 billion in funding for the healthcare reform law.

It includes language that would delay and potentially weaken EPA air pollution regulations for industrial boilers and incinerators, and forces the administration to fast-track a decision on permitting the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.  Days ago, President Obama said he would veto the bill if it contains that language.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) says: "I think that John Boehner needs to take his political cap off, put it down, and get this done … I mean, this is not time to play politics. … They want to put all kinds of riders on this legislation. One of the things they want to do is reduce the amount of money going to the EPA so it won’t be as effective as we would like for it to be and this will go on and on and on. The president is right. We need to shut the door to these riders and take care of the American people."

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