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Public comment sought on updated draft fracking rule

Keywords: Tags  Bureau of Land Management, Neil Kornze, fracking, America's Natural Gas Alliance, Amy Farrell, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Thorsten Schier

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 bureau’s initial proposal (, 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 Management’s 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 America’s 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 process.

The department didn’t give a date when it will issue the final rule.

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