Interior’s fracking rules in cross hairs ahead of upcoming release
Julian Hattem - 05/08/13 01:17 PM ET
Lawmakers from both parties are pouncing on the federal government's attempt to regulate hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas extraction method also known as fracking, even before the draft rules have been released.
At a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, Republicans accused the Interior Department of executive overreach and heard from a number of state officials and gas industry executives who asked for relief from federal rules. Democrats countered by warning of industry pressure and ineffective safety standards.
With Interior expected to release draft rules governing fracking on public lands in the coming weeks, a core disagreement dividing legislators comes down to who should regulate fracking: the federal government or the states.
"States are able to carefully craft regulations to meet the unique geologic and hydrologic needs of their states," said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the chairman of the House committee, who claimed that federal rules would be redundant, costly and would needlessly delay gas production.
"The regulatory needs of North Dakota versus Ohio and New Mexico are vastly different," he added. "Imposing a one-size-fits-all regulatory structure, as the Obama administration is attempting to do, will not work."
"States have successfully regulated more then 1.2 million hydraulic fracturing operations spanning 60 years," argued Montana state Sen. Alan Olson (R). "New federal mandates are not necessary given their exemplary safety record."
Democrats, though, called on the federal government to step in and insure uniform safety standards across the country.
"State regulations vary widely in their requirements and in the stringency of those requirements — and the efficacy varies as well," countered Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.).