EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman Fracking Memo to Vice President Dick Cheney (2001)

The oil and gas industry got a huge boost when Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton, became vice president in 2001. At the time, fracking was unknown to the broader public. But an energy policy task force Cheney helmed in spring 2001 highlighted fracking’s potential, and it recommended a comprehensive exemption to the federal Safe Water Drinking Act for all types of fracking, not just for coalbed methane, which EPA was studying at the time. The EPA cautioned against an overly broad approach.

EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman wrote to Cheney in May 4 2001, “I strongly suggest limiting the recommendation to the problem we know about—hydraulic fracturing for coalbed methane. Otherwise, before the (coalbed methane) study is completed, we are potentially walking into a trap because we don’t yet know the environmental consequences of the broader exemption, or why it is needed.”

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Working Draft Document of EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Report – Chapt 6 (2003-4)

The Cadmus Group, the contractor hired by the EPA under the George W. Bush administration to study the risk of fracking to drinking water, concluded that monitoring of fracking activities and more information from industry would be needed to quantify the risk.

The EPA decided the study’s conclusion should be that fracking did not pose a threat to groundwater and therefore did not require further study or federal oversight.

Even before the final report came out, the Cadmus scientists realized that their findings about risks to underground drinking water diverged from what the EPA wanted.

In this EPA working draft document, for instance, Cadmus recommended revisions to reflect complaints by some Virginia residents about possible contamination of their water from fracking. The contractor raised the question of an investigation to see if the complaints were warranted. The final version did not include the changes Cadmus recommended, and EPA did not launch an inquiry into the complaints.

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EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Project Status Update (March 2004)

The Massachusetts firm The Cadmus Group was hired by the EPA under the George W. Bush Administration in 2002 to write its study on fracking. That study would go on to conclude that fracking poses no risk to drinking water. That finding was the basis for the Halliburton loopole in the Energy Policy Act, which exempted fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The study faced obstacles from the outset, according to EPA documents and Cadmus staff, who ultimately disagreed with the conclusion imposed by the Bush EPA and asked to have their names removed from the document.

A March 3, 2004, EPA agenda entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Project Status” listed among the tasks “Soften conclusions and ES [Executive Summary].” 

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Working Draft Document of EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Report (2003-4)

The Halliburton loophole, which exempts fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, was justified by an EPA study about fracking completed under the George W. Bush administration. The study concluded that fracking posed no risk to drinking water.

However, a working draft of the study prepared by a government contractor suggested that fracking could pose risks to drinking water. The EPA changed parts of that draft.

In drafts of the executive summary, for example, typically a report’s most widely read section, the authors referred to potential threats to public health as the reason for the study. “The goal of this Phase I study was to determine if a threat to public health exists as a result of USDW [Underground Sources of Drinking Water] contamination from hydraulic fracturing fluid injection into CBM [coalbed methane] wells, and if it does, whether the threat is great enough to warrant further study,” the authors wrote.

The final version of the report omits mention of public health except in the discussion of methodology and in paraphrasing public comments deep into the 463-page study.

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Exxon Cordoba Hydrid-Gas Electric Car Technology Brochure (1978)

As part of its advanced battery program in the 1970s, Exxon had developed electric motor technology to be used in a hybrid-gas electric vehicle. In 1978, the EEI automotive team created a brochure that showed off to automakers the hybrid prototype Exxon had built with its ACS technology: a Chrysler Cordoba, which got 27 miles per gallon. That was the mileage target that the Environmental Protection Agency required of vehicles by 1985.  

At the time, the American auto industry grappled with the tough new mileage standards they feared could make their gas guzzlers obsolete.

“Detroit, your future can be both as big and as small as America wants it to be,” the brochure’s cover read.

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Toyota-Exxon Work Plan on Exxon’s ACS Technology for Hybrid Vehicles (1979)

In 1979, Toyota entered into a collaboration with Exxon to work together on the oil company’s novel gas-electric hybrid drive system. Pages of the work plan can be seen here.

In 1981 Exxon’s engineers delivered a hybrid gas-electric Toyota Cressida to Japan. It was outfitted with Exxon’s technology that enabled use of an AC (alternating current) motor in a hybrid—cheaper, smaller and more reliable than DC (direct current) motors.

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The Electric Car and the Petrochemical Industry: Boon Or Bane? Treat or Threat? (1970)

In 1970, Victor Wouk, an independent scientist presented a paper at the Petroleum Chemical Industry conference in Tulsa, Okla. about the challenges and rewards of electric vehicles. The electric car could be “a treat that can be introduced via the bridge of the heat engine/battery hybrid vehicle over the next several decades. Everyone should be encouraged to promote the development of electric vehicles,” he concluded.

Wouk built a prototype1974 hybrid Buick Skylark that got 30 miles per gallon, double its regular mileage, and emitted 9 percent of the emissions a typical model did.

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Richard H. Baker Deposition: FTC v. Exxon Corporation (1980)

Richard H. Baker was hired by Electric Vehicle Control Systems in November 1976 as a full-time consultant. Baker by then had developed an alternating current synthesizer, or ACS, which the company used in its hybrid gas-electric vehicle prototype in the late 1970s.

To commercialize Baker’s ACS technology, the company bought Reliance Electric in 1979. The Federal Trade Commission filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Exxon to block the acquisition of Reliance. 

In 1980, Baker was deposed in Washington D.C. as part of the FTC’s suit.

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Outline of Possible Interpretative Release by States’ Attorneys General Under The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (Draft by Bevis Longstreth)

“The approach that institutional investors should take towards investing in the fossil fuel industry and in industries affected by climate change is a question of pressing concern…There is a need for interpretative guidance for fiduciaries subject to the Act as to how the duty of prudence should be exercised with respect to the rapidly growing climate change risks to the coal, oil, gas and other fossil fuel industries as well as to industries significantly dependent on such sources of energy.”


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