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."