The U.S. Department of the Interior has issued new costly regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing, a process used in 90 percent of oil and gas drilling operations on public lands in this country.
The Obama Administration is forcing private companies drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands to disclose proprietary information about the chemicals used in the process. On Friday, the Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a rule first proposed in February which tightens federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, commonly known as fracing. The rule also sets new restrictions that DOI claims will protect against ground water contamination and air pollution.
Domestic oil and gas production has surged in recent years because technological updates have made it possible to access areas long believed to be depleted. So environmental groups hail the new fracing regulations as long overdue. "[DOI] first issued rules for fracing on public lands in 1982, but they have not been updated since 1988," said Earthworks senior staff attorney Bruce Baizel in a statement following his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. He maintains technological advances in the past two decades make these rules necessary to ensure public and environmental safety.
Yet the insinuation that drillers have operated relatively regulation-free in the more than 60-year history of hydro-fracing is absurd. In an address to the U.S. House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Republican Glenn Thompson defended fracing against this misconception explaining the process is governed by no less than eight federal laws, including the Clean Water Act and and the Clean Air Act. DOI also mentions in its economic analysis of the new rule the large number of state regulations holding drillers in check.
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