Tags: House | bills | energy | veto

White House Threatens Veto of GOP Fracking, Drilling Bills

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 03:27 PM

By Dan Weil

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President Barack Obama is threatening to veto a bill that would restrict the Interior Department's regulation of hydraulic fracturing and a bill that would force the administration to accelerate approvals for oil-and-gas drilling.

The White House issued statements Tuesday criticizing the bills for degrading environmental protections, The Hill reports.

The hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, comes in response to Interior's preparation of rules surrounding fracking on federal and Indian lands, including standards for well integrity.

The proposed legislation would keep Interior from guaranteeing that the controversial technique for extracting oil and gas is used in a "safe and responsible manner," the White House said.

"The bill, as reported, would undermine these efforts and instead require [Interior’s Bureau of Land Management] to defer to existing state regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, regardless of the quality or comprehensiveness of the state regulations -- thereby preventing consistent environmental protections," the White House said.

The second bill, sponsored by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, would establish quicker deadlines for granting drilling permits, among other provisions.

The White House says that bill "would reverse administration oil and gas leasing reforms that have established orderly, open, efficient, and environmentally sound processes for energy development on public lands."

"This bill would favor an arbitrary standard for leasing in open areas over leasing on the basis of greatest resource potential; limit the public's opportunity to engage in decisions about the use of public lands; [and] raise the potential for costly litigation," the White House statement says.

The second bill is set for consideration on the House floor Tuesday, while the first bill will be considered later this week.

The Republican-controlled House is likely to approve both bills, but the Democratic majority in the Senate will likely reject them, The Hill reports.

Flores and Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar,, who co-sponsored his fellow Texan's bill, make the case for their proposal in an opinion piece in The Hill.

The "revolution" in shale oil and gas production that has vastly increased U.S. energy supplies wouldn't be possible without fracking, they say.

And when it comes to regulation, "states have been effectively regulating hydraulic fracturing on both government and privately owned lands for decades," Flores and Cuellar write.

"Adding duplicative federal regulations on top of state regulations, as is currently being proposed by the Department of Interior, does not make sense and is not an efficient use of scarce taxpayer dollars."

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