Utah Democratic representative Jim Matheson publicly claims to be an environmentalist –yet his record begs to differ.
He waited over a month to respond to the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico until pressured by challenger Claudia Wright. Wright called his silence on the issue “deafening” and suggested the $194,247 he has received from oil companies between 2000 and 2008 influenced his desire to work on behalf of his corporate sponsors. Matheson responded he, “already has participated in numerous committee hearings investigating the April 20 Deepwater Horizon well explosion.”
This statement is not true.
If you go to the House Energy and Commerce website, you can go through the transcripts, testimony and video to find the hearings in which he participated. The word numerous is conveniently vague as he has missed a the majority of these hearings. Ray Matthews of SLC pointed out :
He was 1 for 4 in the Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, the committee that didn’t have jurisdiction. For the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations & Subcommittee on Energy and Environment he was 2 for 7, but didn’t stay for these in their entirety.
This isn’t the first time that Matheson put up a smoke screen to appear strong against the oil companies while allowing their abuse of our health and resources to continue. In 2005, Jim Matheson voted for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, or “The Halliburton Loophole,” which granted the hydraulic fracking industry a specific exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act. The name “Halliburton Loophole” came from the fact that at the time, Halliburton was one of the largest providers of hydraulic fracturing services.
Companies like Halliburton drill down vertically, then send the shaft horizontally, crossing many small, trapped veins of gas and oil. Explosive charges are then set off at various points in the drill shaft, causing what Fox calls “mini-earthquakes.” These fractures spread underground, allowing the gas to flow back into the shaft to be extracted.To force open the fractures, millions of gallons of liquid are forced into the shaft at very high pressure. The high-pressure liquids are a combination of water, sand and a secret mix of chemicals. Each well requires between 1 million and 7 million gallons of the fluid every time gas is extracted. Drillers do not have to reveal the chemical cocktail, thanks to a slew of exemptions given to the industry, most notably in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which actually granted the fracking industry a specific exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
There is virtually no federal oversight of fracking, leaving the budget-strapped states to do the job with a patchwork of disparate regulations. They are no match for the major, multinational drilling and energy companies that are exploiting the political goal of “energy independence.” The nonprofit news website ProPublica .org found that, out of 31 states examined, 21 have no regulations specific to hydraulic fracturing, and none requires the companies to report the amount of the toxic fluid remaining underground. Reports indicate that almost 600 different chemicals are used in fracking, including diesel fuel and the “BTEX” chemicals: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, which include known carcinogens. [citation]
Again, Jim Matheson voted to make this possible yet calls himself an environmentalist.
As a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee and the Energy & Environment Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jim Matheson has the tremendous opportunity to help shape legislation that will have a profound impact on the country’s energy future — but has chosen not to act. While I appreciate his ability to write strongly worded position statements, I would much prefer he participate in the energy committees which prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill and recent SLC Chevron pipeline spill from happening in the first place. We’ve given him 8 years of our tax dollars to make a difference in our future and he has squandered that opportunity.
- NPR: Fresh Air: Josh Fox: Living In The Middle Of A ‘Gasland’ – documentary about hydraulic fracturing
- Watch the trailer for Gasland
- Gasland will be shown on HBO June 21, the night before the Wright/Matheson primary
- Listen to Claudia Wright and Jim Matheson on Radiowest with Doug Fabrizio today at 11am (KUER is 90.1 FM in SLC or stream live online)