Fracking Rule Draws Fire Before U.S. Issues New Version

Republican lawmakers and officials from states such as Wyoming faulted the U.S. Interior Department’s plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal land, even before the agency issues a revised version.

With the U.S. a major landholder in Rocky Mountain states such as Wyoming and Montana, rules forcing oil and gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they use and imposing restrictions on water use may damp the production boom, said Representative Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“Imposing duplicative, burdensome and unnecessary red-tape will further limit energy production, increase costs and cost American jobs,” Hastings, a Washington Republican, said today at a hearing on the rules.

Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which proposed rules for drillers on public lands last year, is poised to issue a revised version in coming days or weeks. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell yesterday told a Senate committee that the proposed regulations “have changed somewhat significantly,” without providing specifics, Bloomberg BNA reported. The bureau received more than 170,000 comments on the proposal.

Officials from Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana at the hearing today said federal rules aren’t needed because states have set requirements on disclosure of chemicals, well-drilling procedures and the use and disposal of water.

“The intrusion by the federal government into actions that the states already adequately regulate will cost taxpayers millions in additional expenses,” Montana State Senator Alan Olson said today at the hearing.

However, a representative of owners of land where the U.S. holds mineral rights said strong rules are needed to ensure protection for households, farms and the environment.

“The scale of exploration and development taking place in many formations today is greater than in the past and often occurs in closer proximity to more people,” Sara Kendall, Washington office director of the Western Organization of Resource Councils, said in her testimony. “The surface footprint is larger, the demand for water is greater.”

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