Displeasure over US fracking rules

gas_gold_rush_1130786724 August 2013, News Wires – Displeasure over the Interior Department’s proposed regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands has been amplified on both sides of the debate as the period for public comments comes to a close.

More than 97,000 comments had been filed on the second draft of the rules at the end of the day Wednesday. The comment period ended on Friday.

Among the most vocal in opposition to the proposed rules, which would apply only to operations on federal and Native American lands, were the industry groups the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the Western Energy Alliance.

“This rule undercuts states’ authority to regulate energy production, a realm in which they have been successful for decades,” IPAA president Barry Russell said in a statement. “The cost to the industry will be a colossal $345 million a year. This bureaucratic burden will discourage independent producers from exploring for natural gas and oil on federal lands.”

The oil and gas industry sees state guidelines as the optimal form of fracking regulation. Groups like IPAA argue that states are better positioned to regulate operations within their own borders as they have a better understanding of specific geology and other local factors.

“(Interior) cannot demonstrate that states are not adequately regulating or that federal regulation is more effective,” said Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance.

The Interior rules draw from what Secretary Sally Jewell has lauded as effective state guidelines and are modelled on existing regulations in states like Wyoming and Colorado.

The federal rules, released in May, would require companies to disclose the chemicals they use in fracking while respecting certain proprietary secrets. They would also establish standards for well construction to ensure that toxic fluids are not released into water sources.

On the other end of the spectrum, a group of activists including actors Daryl Hannah and Mark Ruffalo planned to rally at Lafayette Square just outside the White House on Thursday.

Calling themselves “Americans Against Fracking”, the group feels the draft rules do not go far enough and wants fracking on federal lands banned outright.

“This event will send a strong message to the Obama Administration that protecting public lands, water and air is more important than oil and gas industry profits,” the group, backed by 350.org and CredoAction, says on its website.

In upstate New York, another protest was planned for Friday in Binghamton, where President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a visit. Protesters and picketers are reportedly planning to greet Obama at the Binghamton University campus to voice opposition to fracking.

– Upstream

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