Paper 2 and haiku (blog 8)

We’re Fracked

Fracking, a blessing?

Or another distraction

From a green future?


I am going to use environmental ethics theory to investigate a case related to the natural gas industry. I think it would be interesting to explore the industry specifically through an environmental lens, which incorporates both utilitarian and deontological theories.

Natural gas extraction has many economic, environmental, and societal effects. There has been controversy regarding everything from water contamination to increased number of sexual assaults in towns with an influx of industry workers. Regulation is also a highly contested issue. Some people argue it is under regulated, some people argue the opposite. Pennsylvania passed a bill entirely focused on natural gas extraction last year. New York has banned it entirely. For the moment I am considering writing about the Halliburton Loophole.

The Halliburton Loophole is a law that exempts oil and gas producers from certain parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is called the Halliburton Loophole because it was signed into law when Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, was vice president of the US. (Halliburton is an oil and gas company.) Through this specific case, my paper would analyze the environmental consequences versus economic benefits from the resulting industry behavior.

The EPA has made efforts to minimize the freedom the Halliburton Loophole gives oil and gas companies. This article,, explains the federal efforts to do so, as well as continued rule evasion by the industry. It makes me wonder how unbiased oil and gas regulation ever can be. And if the industry itself has extreme influence over its own regulation, it doesn’t look to good for the rest of us.

7 thoughts on “We’re Fracked

  1. I really like the topic of your paper, and although not the exact the same as mine, the ideas are similar. I found it very interesting that the law was signed by Dick Cheney, who was the CEO of the company. Although I found it sad, I also wasn’t surprised that many companies were excluded from the safe water act because to me it seems like the norm now for business to be exempt from things like this–its almost as if there’s no real point for some laws to be passed because people always find a way around them.

  2. It’s crazy to me how blatantly obvious the conflict of interest is regarding Dick Cheney signing the Halliburton Loophole. Being from NY, I have lived amongst anti-fracking signs and debates within my community for a while now. I think this is a great topic to write on, especially with the loophole that exempts companies from laws that are supposed to protect us and the environment.

  3. The conflict of interest is so absurd here, like Brigit said, is so crazy. I don’t understand why the gov’t can allow these things to happen. The VP of the United States signed into a law, something he must have known as the former CEO of Halliburton was going to end up harming us and the environment through exempting the fracking industry from the Clean laws. We the People huh…

  4. This is a very appropriate topic that we will discuss further in class on Thursday. I am very interested in this loophole that companies are allowed to sneak through that end up hurting our environment. It just seems ridiculous that the government would even consider passing such a thing.

  5. Not that I am one to defend Cheney, but he was the CEO of Halliburton before VP, and after serving as the Secretary of Defense for first Bush president.

    The case here is then Halliburton (or the Bush administration) and the ethical analysis of allowing the Halliburton loophole. Sounds good.

    The larger policy analysis could be about many facets of Marcellus gas or shale gas.

    Here you allude to the independence of regulators. That is one. Your haiku alludes to alternative energy policies. That is a second. How to fix clean water and/or clean air to address pollution form natural gas could be a third. I don’t have religion about these, but just to point out that you can go in several directions. I would like to see you and everyone drill down (lol) into your policy analysis rather than do a broader treatment of all the issues.

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