PITTSBURGH (AP) — Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas hasn't contaminated drinking water wells in Arkansas, according to a new study, but researchers said the geology there may be more of a natural barrier to pollution than in other areas where shale gas drilling takes place.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday it will require companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
The new "fracking" rule replaces a draft proposed last year that was withdrawn amid industry complaints that federal regulation could hinder an ongoing boom in natural gas production.
The new draft rule relies on an online database used by Colorado and 10 other states to track the chemicals used in fracking operations. FracFocus.org is a website formed by industry and intergovernmental groups in 2011 that allows users to gather well-specific data on thousands of drilling sites.
The Interior Department on Thursday issued an updated draft rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells on federal lands.
The department said in a statement that the new draft "maintains important safety standards, improves integration with existing state and tribal standards, and increases flexibility for oil and gas developers."
The new proposal includes a variance process that allows for deferrals to state and tribal fracturing regulations "that meet or exceed those proposed by this rule," the department said.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signaled Wednesday her department is substantially revising draft rules governing hydraulic fracturing on public lands, promising senators there will be more cooperation and input from states, tribes and other stakeholders.
"We have been working with the states and the tribes on rules that will be released shortly," she said at a hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "You have my commitment to make sure that this is a collaborative process, and I would throw broader stakeholder groups in that mix as well."
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell vowed Tuesday not to bend to lobbying from the oil and gas industry or its opponents in the drafting of new public lands hydraulic fracturing regulations.
"I would say the fracking rules are not bowing to industry pressure or environmental pressure," she told reporters. "They are taking the best science that's available, they're looking at historical practices, they're taking modern technologies and how they're being used, and coming out with regulations that address all of those things and do it in the most scientifically justifiable way."
With a new Interior Department hydraulic fracturing rule looming, Sen. John Hoeven is seeking anew to rally Senate support for leaving such regulations to states.
Hoeven, R-N.D., intends this month to re-introduce the Empower States Act that he first unveiled last September. An aide said he will again have the backing of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, adding political heft to the push.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane said the NRC can't consider a public hearing on the San Onofre nuclear plant until June, when an appeal period of an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruling ends.