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Drinking Water Protection
Bingaman Amdt. No. 2986
Senate Roll Call No. 43
107th Congress, 2nd Session

Agreed to: 78-21 (see complete tally)
Half of the U.S. population relies on groundwater for drinking water. Contaminated groundwater is difficult, and often impossible, to clean up. Congress recognized the importance of protecting current and future supplies of clean drinking water by passing the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Hydraulic fracturing, a mining procedure that uses the high-pressure injection of sand, water and chemicals into natural gas and oil wells to break down surrounding rock formations and siphon out greater quantities of oil and gas, poses a serious threat to nearby drinking water supplies. This procedure is also used to extract methane gas from coal beds. Conservationists oppose the procedure because the process puts nearby underground sources of drinking water at risk of contamination.

In December 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that hydraulic fracturing could be restricted under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In response, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) attempted to block the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the first draft of his energy bill in December 2001 but the provision was removed at the objection of Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT).

During final consideration of the Senate energy bill (S. 517), Senator Bingaman and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced an amendment requiring the EPA to study the effects of hydraulic fracturing on underground sources of drinking water. Couched as a two-year study, this provision would block any regulation of the procedure in the interim, thereby exposing many drinking water sources to potential contamination. On March 7, 2002, the Senate approved the Bingaman-Inhofe amendment by a 78-21 vote (Senate roll call vote 43). NO is the pro-environment vote. At press time the House and Senate conference on the energy package had not produced a final bill.

Vote Map: Senate Roll Call No. 43
Votes For : 78
Votes Against : 21
Not Voting : 1


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