Environmental Protection Agency

How Jeff Sessions Profited from Introducing a Fracking Exemption for Drinking Water Rules

Jeff Sessions

With U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the midst of Senate confirmation hearings, watchdog group Food and Water Watch has raised new questions about how Sessions and his family profited from a fracking loophole provision he introduced in the Senate.

The group has unveiled new documents showing that Sessions' family owned stock in Energen, a Birmingham, Alabama-based oil and gas company, which pioneered fracking in Alabama and in turn benefited from Sen. Sessions’ push to exempt hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Known better as the “Halliburton Loophole,” Sessions co-sponsored — along with climate-denying U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) — the first federal bill (S.724) to exempt fracking activities from drinking water regulations, a 1999 bill which later passed as a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A few years later, Energen's stock raised significantly in value, and Sessions and his wife cashed out in 2008. 

Trump's Top Regulations Advisor, Billionaire Carl Icahn, Will Profit From Weak Regulations

Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire, left, Carl Icahn, right.

In a recent “Victory Tour” speech in Des Moines, Iowa, President-elect Donald Trump told the audience that he sought to pick a Cabinet and team of advisors composed of “people that made a fortune” because “now they’re negotiating with you, OK?”

Carl Icahn, the 26th richest man on the planet according to Forbes, fits the “made a fortune” bill. Icahn, a business partner of Trump and major donor to his presidential campaign, has been named by the President-elect as his Special Advisor on Regulatory Reform.

However, as recently reported by DeSmog, Icahn stands to gain directly from deregulation in the energy and environmental sphere. He has already made his mark on the future Trump administration by vetting and recommending the regulation-averse Scott Pruitt, whom Trump eventually picked to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

As Trump Names Exxon CEO Tillerson Secretary of State, Waterkeeper Alliance Asks EPA to Tell Company "You're Fired!"

The Waterkeeper Alliance, represented by Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, submitted a 54-page petition with 358 footnotes and 448 pages containing 43 exhibits to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for an end of all of its federal contracts with ExxonMobil. 

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was recently named U.S. Secretary of State by President-Elect Donald Trump and will likely face a contentious congressional nomination hearing due to his own and his company's ties to Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The petition centers around what Exxon knew for decades about climate change, which it studied closely in-house, while funding climate change denial efforts for decades, while also discussing the rest of its environmental track-record. 

Fracking Can Contaminate Drinking Water, Has Made Some Water Supplies "Unusable," Long-Awaited EPA Study Concludes

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it had completed its scientific report on whether fracking puts America's drinking water supplies at risk.

The EPA's conclusions were clear: fracking can harm water. And it's not the the hydraulic fracturing process itself that poses risks — problems have emerged at every stage of the water cycle associated with fracking, at times making people's drinking water supplies “unusable.”

The Billionaire Energy Investor Who Vetted Trump's EPA Pick Has Long List of EPA Violations

Natural gas refinery

Asked for his take on President-elect Donald Trump's appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), multi-billionaire investor and Trump business partner Carl Icahn told Bloomberg that Pruitt is “going to really be a breath of fresh air.” Given Icahn's business ties, that statement is steeped in accidental irony. 

Icahn, owner of the holding company Icahn Enterprises and a major donor to Trump's presidential campaign, was instrumental in choosing Pruitt — a man who as state prosecutor actively opposed most federal environmental regulations and denied the science of climate change — for the nation's top environmental job. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Trump allowed Icahn, the 26th most wealthy man on the planet, to vet and interview finalists for high-level EPA jobs even though Icahn owns business assets impacted by current EPA regulations.

In addition, a DeSmog investigation shows that Icahn Enterprises owns oil industry assets based in Oklahoma, which are involved in EPA enforcement violations, and does business with TransCanada's Keystone pipeline system. 

Donald Trump's Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers

One of President-elect Donald Trump's most pressing current tasks is selecting who will serve in his new administration, especially his transition team and cabinet, though there are over 4,000 political appointees to hire for federal jobs in all.

Much of the mainstream media attention so far has centered around Trump's choices of Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and former Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor. Congressional Democrats have called for Bannon to be banned from the White House, citing his personal bigotry and the bigotry often on display on Breitbart.com. Meanwhile, Bannon's hire was praised by the American Nazi Party and KKK.

Yet, perhaps just as troubling is the army of climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists helping to pick or court a spot on Trump's future climate and energy team.

EPA's Fracking Study Edited at Last Minute, Downplaying Risks, Newly Uncovered Documents Show

Just before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its high profile study on fracking, the agency planned to announce that the draft “study shows potential vulnerabilities to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing process.”

But that wasn't the message the public heard the next day.

Instead, the EPA's press release highlighted a statement that the $29 million “[a]ssessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources…”

Trump May Reverse U.S. Climate Policy But Will Have Trouble Dismantling EPA

Collecting water samples in Louisiana after Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

By University of California, Santa Barbara

During the Republican primary debates, President-elect Trump threatened to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying, “We are going to get rid of it in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.”

History suggests that it may be harder to make radical cuts at EPA than Trump and his advisors think. While many politicians have called for eliminating entire cabinet agencies, none has succeeded.

What President Trump Means for the Future of Energy and Climate

By Mark Barteau, University of Michigan

President…Donald…Trump. For those on both sides of the aisle who vowed “Never Trump!,” that’s going to take some getting used to. After a stunning election, the first impulse may be to describe the future in apocalyptic phrases. Game over for the climate! Game over for NATO! Game over for the Clean Power Plan! Game over for Planned Parenthood!

While there are certainly extreme outcomes possible for these and many other issues that divide our nation, we may see some moderation, especially on matters where the divisions do not rigidly follow ideological fault lines.

Trump Economic Adviser "Pushing" for Climate Denier and Fossil Fuel Apologist to Head EPA

Kathleen Hartnett White

Stephen Moore — economic adviser for Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign — recently told Politico's Morning Energy that he is “pushing” to have a climate change denier and fossil fuel promoter, Kathleen Hartnett White, named as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if Trump is elected president in November.

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