The Obama administration is under fire from all sides for its new draft regulations for fracking on federal land, with the oil industry saying it wants states rather than Washington to determine the rules and environmental groups saying the guidelines don’t go far enough.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued the regulations on Thursday. They would require greater disclosure of chemicals used in drilling, require companies to have a management plan for water that flows back to the surface, and have a way of preventing toxic fluids from leaking into groundwater, reports The Washington Post
The American Petroleum Institute criticized the department for not leaving regulation in the hands of the states.
"While changes to the proposed rule attempt to better acknowledge the state role, BLM has yet to answer the question why BLM is moving forward with these requirements in the first place," Erik Milito, API director of upstream, told the newspaper.
Barry Russell, chief executive of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the new proposals solve "no existing problem, but creates additional burdens for independent producers and state regulators."
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a conference call that the proposals are "common-sense updates" of regulations that "date back to the Sony Walkman and Atari video game," according to the Post. Calling fracking an "essential tool," she said it should not be left to a "patchwork" of state regulations.
Meanwhile, environmental groups want stricter guidelines.
"These rules protect industry, not people," Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Post. "They are riddled with gaping holes that endanger clean, safe drinking-water supplies for millions of Americans nationwide."
According to the BLM, about 90 percent of the oil and gas wells drilled on federal and Indian lands use fracking, a technique that involves drilling through shale rock to create fissures that allow oil and gas to flow.
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