Text: S.3247 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (01/28/2020)

[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 3247 Introduced in Senate (IS)]


  2d Session
                                S. 3247

  To ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes.



                            January 28, 2020

  Mr. Sanders (for himself and Mr. Merkley) introduced the following 
bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                           Natural Resources


                                 A BILL

  To ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Fracking Ban Act''.


    Congress finds that--
            (1) the chemicals injected into the ground during the 
        hydraulic fracturing process include acids, detergents, and 
        toxic chemicals that put drinking water at risk;
            (2) hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, extracts natural gas 
        containing methane, a greenhouse gas that traps more than 86 
        times the heat of carbon dioxide in the short term;
            (3) the process of fracking results in further methane 
        leakages that could increase carbon pollution in the United 
        States by 25 percent by 2050;
            (4) fracked natural gas is not a bridge fuel, as previously 
            (5) even if every coal plant were replaced by fracked gas 
        electricity by 2030, emissions would remain on track to grow 
        through 2050 due in part to pervasive methane leaks that make 
        fracked gas as dangerous as coal;
            (6) similarly, even if methane leaks could be totally 
        eliminated, the direct emissions from burning the huge volumes 
        of natural gas the United States plans to produce in the next 
        decade do not fit in safe climate scenarios;
            (7) the American Petroleum Institute reports that ``up to 
        95% of natural gas wells in the next decade in the United 
        States will be fracked'';
            (8) renewable energy and storage eliminate any need for 
        fracked gas;
            (9) all the technologies needed to support a transition to 
        100 percent renewable electricity exist at commercial scale and 
        equal or cheaper costs compared to fossil fuels;
            (10) significant carbon reductions are impossible if even 
        10 percent of electricity comes from natural gas going forward;
            (11) in some instances, fracking operations violate 
        property rights by taking the land of property owners for 
        drilling and transportation of fracked gas;
            (12) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the 
        Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, or Transco, seized 
        private land and began construction for a fracked gas pipeline 
        before the landowners could appear in court to protest and once 
        the landowners did file an official protest, the Federal Energy 
        Regulatory Commission allowed Transco to continue construction 
        while the case was decided in court;
            (13) scientists, along with governmental agencies in the 
        United States and Canada, report that fracking and fracking 
        wastewater injections can be linked to earthquakes all across 
        North America, including in the States of Pennsylvania, 
        Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas and in British Columbia;
            (14) fracking contaminates ground and surface water with 
        toxic chemicals though waste discharge, underground migration 
        of fracking gas and chemicals into drinking water sources, and 
            (15) numerous scientific studies have shown that the 
        chemicals referred to in paragraph (14) cause serious negative 
        health impacts such as cancer and birth defects;
            (16) in addition to toxic chemicals injected underground, 
        fracking fluid traveling back up to the surface contains 
        additional toxic substances such as heavy metals, arsenic, 
        barium, strontium, uranium, radium, and radon;
            (17) fracking pollutes the air and substantially 
        contributes to ground-level ozone, which can cause serious 
        negative health impacts such as strokes, heart attacks, and 
            (18) research shows that expectant mothers living near 
        heavy fracking in the State of Pennsylvania were significantly 
        more likely to experience a high-risk pregnancy or give birth 
            (19) studies have linked drilling and fracking to elevated 
        incidences of infant deaths, high-risk pregnancies, and low 
        birth weight in the States of Colorado and Texas;
            (20) the fracking industry regularly disposes of waste that 
        will remain radioactive for thousands of years by spraying it 
        on roads next to homes and farms;
            (21) the climate crisis represents a national emergency to 
        the future stability, prosperity, and general welfare of the 
        United States and a growing body of scientific research has 
        demonstrated that leakage, venting, and flaring of methane and 
        other greenhouse gases in the course of oil and gas production 
        and transmission significantly contributes to increased climate 
            (22) a global rise in temperatures of more than 1.5 degrees 
        Celsius would result in irreversible and catastrophic changes 
        to public health, livelihoods, quality of life, food security, 
        water supplies, human security, and economic growth;
            (23) limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires 
        global carbon pollution emissions to be cut in half by 2030, 
        and completely eliminated by 2050;
            (24) the United States is on track to account for 60 
        percent of world growth in oil and gas production by 2030 and 
        extract enough new oil and gas by 2050 to make it impossible to 
        avoid a rise in temperatures of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius;
            (25) fracking can expose workers to toxic substances like 
        radon, the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United 
        States, in concentrations hundreds of times more radioactive 
        than the legal limit for nuclear power plant discharges, as 
        well as other dangerous substances like silica dust;
            (26) low-income communities, communities of color, 
        indigenous communities, and other environmental justice 
        communities in the United States are disproportionately exposed 
        to pollution from hydraulic fracturing;
            (27) more than 17,000,000 individuals in the United States, 
        including 1,400,000 young children and 1,100,000 elderly 
        people, live within a mile of an oil or natural gas well or an 
        oil or natural gas processing, transmission, and storage 
            (28) the air in many African-American communities violates 
        air quality standards for ozone smog, and more than 1,000,000 
        African Americans live within a half mile of oil and natural 
        gas wells or processing, transmission, and storage facilities;
            (29) children in African-American communities experience 
        138,000 additional asthma attacks and 101,000 lost school days 
        each year due to ozone increases from natural gas emissions;
            (30) frontline and vulnerable communities that are 
        currently being exposed to fracking will also be hit hardest by 
        the impacts of climate change;
            (31) several States, including the States of Vermont, New 
        York, Washington, and Maryland, and cities, counties, and towns 
        across the United States, have banned hydraulic fracturing;
            (32) the Federal Government should follow the lead of the 
        States, cities, counties, and towns that have banned hydraulic 
        fracturing by banning hydraulic fracturing on all onshore and 
        offshore land in the United States;
            (33) the Federal Government should commit to transitioning 
        toward energy efficiency and 100-percent-sustainable energy 
        sources, such as wind and solar;
            (34) exporting liquefied natural gas requires supercooling 
        fracked natural gas, an energy intensive process that makes the 
        climate impacts even worse;
            (35) the process described in paragraph (34) requires major 
        investments in expensive new dirty energy infrastructure that 
        poses risk of disastrous explosions;
            (36) the Interstate Commerce Clause of section 8 of article 
        I of the Constitution of the United States provides Congress 
        the power to regulate or ban fracking due to the substantial 
        role of oil and gas in the stream of interstate commerce and 
        the fact that produced waters generated from the practice of 
        hydraulic fracturing are transported across State lines;
            (37) under the Foreign Commerce Clause of section 8 of 
        article I of the Constitution of the United States, Congress 
        has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and 
        the practice of hydraulic fracturing has a substantial and 
        growing effect on national and international oil and gas 
            (38) the Federal Government must provide fossil fuel 
        workers, and the communities in which they live, with a just 
        and fair transition away from the fossil fuel industry, 
        including by guaranteeing the incomes, training, healthcare, 
        and pensions of affected workers, creating new, high-wage, 
        unionized, green jobs, and investing in economic development 
        and infrastructure in fossil fuel communities;
            (39) the Federal Government must assist frontline and 
        vulnerable communities that have been most polluted by the 
        fossil fuel industry by cleaning up pollution, remediating 
        negative health impacts, and building resilient infrastructure 
        to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change;
            (40) the Federal Government must hold the fossil fuel 
        industry accountable by requiring the fossil fuel industry to 
        pay for the costs of cleaning up pollution and preparing 
        communities for the unavoidable impacts of climate change;
            (41) hydraulic fracturing activities and related 
        infrastructure create public nuisances for local communities, 
        impact disproportionally affected communities, and create a 
        public nuisance nationwide by exacerbating negative impacts of 
        climate change, including worse heat waves, floods, droughts, 
        extreme weather, spread of disease, and sea level rise; and
            (42) hydraulic fracturing is not in the national interest 
        of the United States.


    In this Act:
            (1) Acid.--The term ``acid'' means any fluid injected into 
        crude oil- or natural gas-bearing geological formations to 
        create, dissolve, etch, erode, or increase the permeability of 
        fractures or fissures.
            (2) Committee.--The term ``Committee'' means the Just 
        Transition Committee established under section 4(d)(1).
            (3) Fracking; hydraulic fracturing.--The terms ``fracking'' 
        and ``hydraulic fracturing'' include the practice of injecting 
        acids, chemicals, proppants, solvents, and other fluids 
        underground to create fractures or fissures in oil- or natural 
        gas-bearing geological formations to extract oil or natural 
            (4) Frontline and vulnerable community.--The term 
        ``frontline and vulnerable community'' means a community in 
        which climate change, pollution, or environmental destruction 
        have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, 
        environmental, and economic injustices by disproportionately 
        affecting indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant 
        communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural 
        communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, 
        the unhoused, people with disabilities, or youth.
            (5) Produced waters.--The term ``produced waters'' means 
        liquids produced as a byproduct during the fracking process.
            (6) Proppant.--The term ``proppant'' means any material 
        intended to keep a hydraulic fracture open during or after the 
        extraction of oil or natural gas.
            (7) Solvent.--The term ``solvent'' means any fluid, 
        including steam, injected into oil- or natural gas-bearing 
        geological formations for the purpose of liquefying, decreasing 
        the viscosity of, or increasing the flow of any other injected 
        fluid or oil or natural gas.


    (a) In General.--No Federal agency may approve any Federal permit 
for the expansion of hydraulic fracturing or fracked oil and natural 
gas infrastructure, including new hydraulic fracturing operations, new 
pipelines, new liquefied natural gas or oil export terminals, new 
natural gas storage, new ethane cracker plants, new natural gas power 
generation plants, or other infrastructure intended to extract, 
transport, or burn natural gas or oil.
    (b) Survey.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than January 31, 2021, the 
        Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall 
        complete a national survey of all oil and natural gas wells in 
        the United States to identify all wells where hydraulic 
        fracturing has been used or is in the process of being used.
            (2) Inclusions.--The survey under paragraph (1) shall 
        include, with respect to each well identified under the survey 
        as a well where hydraulic fracturing has been used or is in the 
        process of being used, data on--
                    (A) the location of the well;
                    (B) the proximity of the well to homes, schools, 
                and other inhabited structures;
                    (C) the historic, current, and future production 
                rates of the well; and
                    (D) any known health and safety violations of the 
    (c) Revocation of Permits.--Effective on February 1, 2021--
            (1) all Federal operating permits for any well identified 
        under the survey under subsection (b) as a well where hydraulic 
        fracturing has been used or is in the process of being used and 
        found to be operating within 2,500 feet of a home, school, or 
        other inhabited structure shall be immediately revoked; and
            (2) the well shall immediately cease all production 
    (d) Just Transition Committee.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 60 days after the date of 
        enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Labor shall establish a 
        multistakeholder, multiagency committee, to be known as the 
        ``Just Transition Committee'', which shall include the 
        Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, 
        the Department of Energy, and the Department of Commerce.
            (2) Report.--
                    (A) In general.--Not later than January 1, 2021, 
                the Committee shall submit to Congress a report that 
                details the recommendations of the Committee for 
                ensuring the health and safety of individuals residing 
                in, and the prosperity of, natural gas- and oil-
                producing regions during the phaseout of the production 
                of natural gas and oil in those regions.
                    (B) Consultation required.--In preparing the report 
                under subparagraph (A), the Committee shall consult 
                with relevant stakeholders, including representatives 
                of organized labor, frontline and vulnerable 
                communities, and State and local governmental 
                representatives of the natural gas- and oil-producing 
                regions referred to in subparagraph (A).
    (e) Prohibition.--Beginning on January 1, 2025, the practice of 
hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas is prohibited on all 
onshore and offshore land in the United States.

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