Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, voiced strong concern over the draft rules on hydraulic fracturing for public and Indian lands released by President Obama’s Department of Interior. The draft rules would require operators to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on public and Indian lands, address well-bore integrity, and create a number of new requirements surrounding the use, storage, and disposal of water.
“Today President Obama released yet another rule designed to strangle American energy production,” Senator Inhofe said. “Once again, his administration couched this rule in disingenuous rhetoric about increasing oil and natural gas development, all while rolling out just another duplicative and unnecessary bureaucratic roadblock designed to stall hydraulic fracturing – the only process available to develop our vast resources from tight shale formulations. This rule may only apply to public lands now, but let’s not forget that Interior Secretary Salazar has publically stated his hope to use these rules as a blueprint for federal regulation over state and private lands in the future.
“The reason we have had such a boom in natural gas production is precisely because states, not the federal government, have the sole authority to regulate the process. The first use of hydraulic fracturing happened in 1949 in Duncan Oklahoma, and it has been safely regulated at the state level for over 60 years. Even Administrator Jackson has admitted again, despite EPA’s best efforts to link hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination, that ‘in no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.’
“If there is anyone out there still buying President Obama’s phony reelection rhetoric about natural gas, the Sierra Club – one of the Big Green groups that gave the President its most enthusiastic endorsement – has just rolled out its newest campaign: ‘Beyond Gas.’ As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune explained yesterday, ‘As we push to retire coal plants, we’re going to work to make sure we’re not simultaneously switching to natural-gas infrastructure. And we’re going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can.’ With today’s announcement Big Green can be proud of their endorsement of their President, and his green team administration, who are working overtime to help them achieve their goals.”
Background: Rule Requiring Public Disclosure of Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing on Public and Indian Lands
These rules are duplicative and unnecessary; disclosure is largely being done through a state led Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission web-based voluntary disclosure registry known as “FracFocus” which is required in many states and has over 254 participating companies with data on over 16,000 wells.
In order to combat encroaching federal regulations on natural gas development, Senator Inhofe and nine other Senators introduced the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act which will ensure that states – not the federal government – have the sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing within their state boundaries.
Although the Administration likes to take credit for increased oil and gas production and a decrease in foreign imports, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service recently released a report confirming that since 2007, “About 96% of the [oil production] increase took place on non-federal lands…” where states are successfully regulating the development of our natural resources. Furthermore, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), our lessened reliance on foreign oil “results from a variety of factors. Chief among those is a significant contraction in consumption… This decline partly reflects the downturn in the underlying economy.” The EIA also notes that total fossil fuel sales of production from federal lands are down since 2008.