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Interior allows more comments for drilling rule

Matthew Daly, Associated Press

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday, June 6, 2013, before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to review programs and activities of the Interior Department . (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Companies that drill for oil and natural gas — and their critics — will have 60 more days to comment on a new rule regulating hydraulic fracturing operations on public lands.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the extension Thursday after industry groups and environmentalists said they needed more time to digest a 171-page "fracking" rule issued last month.

The rule requires companies for the first time to disclose publicly the chemicals used in fracking operations. It also sets standards for proper construction of wells and disposal of wastewater.

Jewell called the rule a "common-sense update" that increases safety while also providing flexibility and improving coordination with states and Indian tribes. Drilling regulations were last changed in 1982.

Comments on the drilling proposal will be accepted through late August.