Connecting the dots on fracking: the Halliburton Loophole

[This is a letter I sent to Mother Jones magazine on November 9, 2012, asking that they do an article on how the national fracking campaign developed, which I believe was consciously created by Dick Cheney and lawyers from the oil and gas industry in the early 2000’s, resulting in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which created the infamous “Halliburton Loophole.”]

Hello Mother Jones, 

I am a subscriber to your magazine, and really enjoy your quality investigative journalism. 
I would like to suggest that you do a story that would have national significance on the topic of fracking, global climate change, and the actions of the multinational oil and gas corporations to fight the global need to transition our economies off of fossil fuels and into alternative, renewable energy. 
I have taught environmental economics at Front Range Community College here in Colorado since 2009. I’ve watched with growing alarm over the past three years as the growth of fracking has rapidly advanced, and is now threatening my own town of Lafayette in Boulder County. It has taken me some time to connect the dots as to how this occurred, and which I believe many of your readers would like to read about. I know you have reported on this before, on how the Halliburton Loophole was created by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, but I’ve not seen any article anywhere to take the angle I am suggesting. 
What I have not read about anywhere is an in-depth article that documents how Dick Cheney was instrumental in putting the language into that Act which specifically exempted the hydraulic fracking industry from our federal environmental laws. I recall that there were news articles around the time of the second reelection of the Bush administration about how Cheney was held in contempt of court and refused to file required reports about his meetings with oil and gas representatives (see here).  I believe that in these meetings, Cheney and lawyers working for the oil and gas industry were creating a national legal strategy to exempt fracking from federal legislation, knowing that then local communities would all be on their own to resist these large oil and gas corporations. I am unclear as to what ever happened to these court contempt charges that were brought against Cheney.
This strategy has been largely successful in states with poor rural regions like eastern Colorado, central Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas, where local citizens need the income, and believed the industry’s reassurances that this technology is safe. But in more affluent and educated communities, such as New York State, Pittsburgh and Boulder County in Colorado, local citizens have organized to resist allowing fracking in their environment. Longmont, CO just successfully passed a ban on fracking inside their city limits by a decisive margin, and are now about to be sued by the state of Colorado, due to the pro-industry leaning of our governor, John Hickenlooper (or Frakenlooper, as me and my fellow activists like to refer to him!). Such is the results of this national campaign of the oil and gas industry, but it has stirred up a storm of grass roots resistance to it, which is getting increasingly organized and connected. An article such as I am suggesting would help to strengthen and unite this awareness, and lend support to efforts at the state, and eventually federal, levels to regulate fracking, if not eventually outright ban this toxic and highly environmentally damaging technology. 
I believe if more Americans were shown how this national legal strategy by the oil and gas industry was created, especially with willing cooperation of a vice president that was a past CEO of a major oil and gas corporation, that they would begin to connect the dots, and be rightfully indignant that such abuse of our federal government has gone unreported and unpunished.  
Thank you for your time.


— Rick Casey

East Boulder County United (against tracking)
Rick Casey :: :: 303.345.8893

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