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Sullivan joins pro-oil group against EPA

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. John Sullivan joined with other lawmakers Tuesday in discouraging any effort to regulate hydraulic fracturing, an important process to the energy industry, through the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Oklahoma Republican said nearly 1 million wells have been hydraulically fractured in the U.S. in the past six decades with no known harm to water supplies.

Sullivan said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the process poses no threat to groundwater.

"I firmly believe that putting hydraulic fracturing under the grip of the EPA, as some in Congress seek to do, would be a mistake and a bureaucratic nightmare that would lead to delays in recoverable domestic natural gas extraction and would hurt job growth in Oklahoma," he said.

"Keeping the hydraulic fracturing exemption intact from onerous EPA regulation is critical to increasing the supply of American energy."

Sullivan said he was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers that sent a letter on the issue to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of a key subcommittee.

Waxman's office declined to comment.

Waxman and Markey launched an investigation this year into potential effects of hydraulic fracturing.

They wrote to several oil and gas companies that use the process, requesting information about the chemicals the companies use and the potential impact on the environment and public health.

The EPA announced last month that it would conduct its own investigation into the potential harm of hydraulic fracturing on water quality.

Sullivan is a member of the House committee.

According to his office, nothing specific triggered the letter to Waxman and Markey outside of an attempt to show bipartisan support for maintaining the current exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Hydraulic fracturing involves vertical and horizontal drilling and injecting fluids and sands to help withdraw oil or gas.

By JIM MYERS