NEW YORK The U.S.
Department of the Interior has released an updated draft rule
on hydraulic fracturing developed by the Bureau of Land
Management for public comment.
The rule maintains the three key
components of the bureaus initial proposal (
amm.com, May 4, 2012): requiring operators to
disclose the chemicals they use in fracturing activities on
public lands, improving assurances of well-bore integrity to
verify that fluids used during fracturing operations are not
contaminating groundwater, and confirming that oil and gas
operators have water-management plans in place for handling
fluids that flow back to the surface, the agency said.
In an addition to the initial
rule, however, it also gives precedence to "states and tribes"
that might already have rules on fracking in place that "meet
or exceed" those in the proposal.
The Bureau of Land
Managements existing rules on fracking are more than 30
years old and "were not written to address modern hydraulic
fracturing activities," the agency said.
"We know from experience that
hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling methods can be
used safely and effectively, employing many of the best
management practices reflected in this draft rule," Bureau of
Land Management principal deputy director Neil Kornze said.
The revised rule attracted
favorable comment from some industry groups.
"It is encouraging that the
administration revisited its original proposal and appears to
have made some favorable changes, including accounting for the
expertise and work being done at the state level," Amy Farrell,
vice president of regulatory affairs for Americas Natural
Gas Alliance, a group representing natural gas producers, said
in a statement.
However, "the rule remains an
unnecessary layer of red tape standing in the way of important
energy production and job creation opportunities," three
members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said,
adding that states alone should be the primary regulators of
The department didnt give
a date when it will issue the final rule.