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Fracking rules on chopping block

Joe Mont | July 26, 2017

As part of President Trump’s stated goal “to reduce the burden of Federal regulations that hinder economic growth and energy development,” the Bureau of Land Management has published a proposal to rescind a 2015 final rule on hydraulic fracturing.

The rule demanded construction standards so that fracking operations would not pollute nearby water sources. Disclosure requirements were also demanded regarding any chemicals used in the process.

The rule was stalled, and remains in limbo, due to legal challenges.

“The Department of the Interior’s approach toward overseeing wells is to be better business partners and environmental stewards which is in alignment with the Trump Administration’s across-the-board prioritization of domestic energy production,” Vincent DeVito, counselor to the Secretary of the Interior for energy policy.  “This means flexibility to regulate fracking and a rule-making process open to all members of the public.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke directed the BLM to review the 2015 final rule as part of Secretary’s Order No. 3349, Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, issued on March 29, 2017.  During the review, the BLM found that all of the 32 states with federal oil and gas leases have regulations to address hydraulic fracturing.

The BLM estimates that about 90 percent of the approximately 2,800 production wells drilled in 2013 on Federal and Indian lands used hydraulic fracturing techniques to stimulate production. 

“During the past 15 years, there have been significant technological advances in horizontal drilling,” a statement says. “The technique is now frequently combined with hydraulic fracturing to help release significant quantities of oil and gas from large shale deposits.”

Public comments on this proposed rescission are due to the BLM on or before Sept. 25, 2017. The mailing address is: U.S. Department of the Interior, director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134LM, 1849 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240, Attention: 1004-AE52.