Ever wonder what fracking tastes like? The governor of Colorado doesn't.
In order to prove just how safe the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing is, John Hickenlooper says he drank the stuff that Halliburton uses to do it. Lots of people have been upset with the widesrpead use of potentially toxic fracking fluids, primarily because the oil and gas companies won’t publicly disclose what’s in them, and also because it has made some of their tap water flammable.
But not to worry, because, as Hickenlooper says, “You can drink it.” That’s what he told a Senate committee in Washington , anyways. He went on to describe a strange little powwow he had not long ago with Halliburton, the major oil and gas concern once helmed by Dick Cheney.
“We did drink it around the table, almost rituallike, in a funny way,” Hickenlooper told leaders in Congress. “It was a demonstration. … they’ve invested millions of dollars in what is a benign fluid in every sense.”
Well, okay. Unfortunately, this little stunt doesn’t really prove anything, besides that drinking a small glass of fracking fluid will not instantly kill John Hickenlooper, and that the governor of Colorado has an adventurous taste in beverages.
It does not, for instance, prove that fracking fluid is not harmful, or that it is not toxic. It just means that it was not toxic enough to kill a Colorado governor instantly. Which I guess is sort of a relief. Hickenlooper also made a point to stress what nice guys Halliburton were, and to not be too hard on them, otherwise they might not agree to blast their drinkable chemical cocktails into their states, too.
“If we were overzealous in forcing them to disclose what they had created, they wouldn’t bring it into our state,” he said.
You see, there’s a lot of talk of late about forcing drilling companies to tell the public what sorts of toxic chemicals are contained in the cocktails they’re pumping through aquifers and near groundwater stores. Someone got this clearly anti-American idea that people ought to have a right to know whether toxic chemicals are being used extensively in their neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the companies don’t want to share, because if those whiny people knew what kind of stuff was in their water, they’d probably get all complain-y. Also, those mixtures might very well turn out to be illegal.
See, thanks to what is famously known as the Halliburton loophole, (which Mr. Cheney was instrumental in widening) companies who frack are exempt from Clean Water & Air Act rules that would otherwise force them to disclose which chemicals they’re using. As a result, companies like Halliburton keep their concoctions secret, citing proprietary reasons.
But they will feed it to our governors, which is evidently supposed to be reassuring enough.