Democratic Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee appealed to the Committee's chairman and the chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to hold a hearing on the subject of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas production. Citing "new information" on fracking and pointing to other Congressional committees' hearings on the topic, the Committee's former Chairman and current Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), and the ranking members of two of its subcommittees, Ed Markey (D-MA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), charged that Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are making a mistake in not holding a hearing given the Committee's broad jurisdiction over the nation's energy policy.
In urging the hearing, the Democrats’ letter cites recent studies by Cornell and Duke Universities, reports of “spills and insufficient disposal of hydraulic wastewater” (including the recent New York Times expose on fracking), and regulatory activity at the federal and state level. The Democrats also noted their own April-released report on the constituent components of fracking fluid in their plea for a hearing.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has one of the broadest jurisdictions of any Congressional committee. Its jurisdiction covers all measures related to the exploration, production, storage, supply, marketing, pricing, and regulation of energy resources and covers environmental safeguards such as the Safe Drinking Water Act. During the 111th Congress, when Democrats were in control of the House, the Committee held hearings on fracking, but failed to approved Rep. DeGette's FRAC Act outright, or to include it in other measures, such as a reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act.