Fracking Rules Show Obama on ‘Wrong Track,’ Oil Group Says

President Barack Obama’s energy policy is on the “wrong track” by promoting natural gas while drafting restrictions on the hydraulic fracturing process that produces the fuel, the biggest energy industry group said.

“We are on the wrong track,” Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest energy trade group in Washington, said in remarks prepared for a speech today. “We see it in an incoherent approach to natural gas development: lauding it’s obvious benefits while ratcheting up pressure for new layers of duplicative regulations that could stop energy development dead in its tracks.”

A boom in gas production using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, increased production of the fuel, cut prices 32 percent last year and raised environmental concerns about tainted drinking water supplies. Further development of shale resources using fracking may add more than 1.6 million jobs by 2035, according to API.

U.S. natural gas production rose to a record 2,483 billion cubic feet in October, according to the Energy Information Administration report issued Dec. 29, a 15 percent increase from October 2008, the month before Obama was elected.

While Obama said in a March 30 energy speech that fracking enabled the U.S. to tap “a century’s worth of reserves,” he also said the production must be done safely and without polluting drinking-water supplies.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department are drafting regulations aimed at ensuring drinking water supplies are protected, while states, such as West Virginia and Colorado, impose rules on operators.

The Interior Department is seeking comment from the energy industry to ensure that the agency’s rule “does not push back on the bright future for natural gas,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the House Natural Resources Committee on Nov. 16.

The American Petroleum Institute represents more than 490 energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest company by market value.