Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a bill to ban hydraulic fracking in the Senate last week. The bill titled “A bill to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes” was co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley from Oregon and worked out with the help of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and will “immediately ban fracking for oil and gas on all federal public lands onshore and offshore,” a press release stated.
The bill would “forbid any new federal permits for fossil fuel infrastructure such as pipelines, natural gas export terminals and ethane cracker plants,” a press release stated. It will also end fracking on public lands by 2025. The bill named fossil fuel as a major contributor of climate change and to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, an immediate ban on fracking is necessary.
“Senator Sanders’ bill names the problem and provides the only solution,” Natalie Mebane, Associate Director of Policy at 350.org, said. “In order to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, we must rapidly transition off of fossil fuels, and end fracking and the dangerous pipelines that come with it.”
Many environmental groups applaud the bill saying its time to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the pollution caused to human health and the environment.
“Fracking poisons our waters, sickens our children and destroys our public lands and wildlife,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said. “It’s long past time to toss this filthy, dangerous activity into the dustbin of history.”
The bill will also require “fracked wells within 2,500 feet of where people live, work and go to school to be shut down as of Feb. 1, 2021, to protect public health and promote environmental justice,” a press release stated.
Together with the fracking ban, Sanders, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Ma), introduced “The Preventing Future American Sickness (PFAS) Act.” This bill would “direct the EPA to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance under CERCLA within a year.” It would also ban all PFAS in food packaging and “put a federal ban on all incineration of waste PFAS firefighting foam and direct the EPA to review other wastes containing PFAS that should also not be burned.”
“As hundreds of communities across the country are dealing with toxic PFAS contamination in their drinking water,” Sanders said, “it is unconscionable that huge corporations like DuPont have, for decades, concealed evidence of how dangerous these compounds are in order to keep profiting at the expense of human health. Congress must pass this legislation to put an end to corporate stonewalling and criminal behavior and tackle this public health crisis. It is not a radical idea to demand that when people in the world’s richest country turn on their taps, the water they drink is free of toxic chemicals.”
The bill, which defines PFAS as the entire class of PFAS chemicals, would force manufacturers to foot the bill for cleaning them up, The Hill reported.
“Every American—regardless of the color of their skin, their zip code, or their income—has the right to be free from exposure to a slew of carcinogens and hazardous chemicals,” Merkley, said. “But millions of people are ingesting dangerous PFAS chemicals against their will through the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat. Congress needs to come together to put the health of our communities above the wish lists of American’s biggest polluters, and that means establishing and enforcing chemical standards that protect Americans from PFAS substances.”