First, drillers would have to get a permit, considered only after explaining how they plan to handle “flowback water” that arises at the end of the fracking, to conduct a hydraulic fracturing operation. Before beginning, they would have to submit to authorities a log that “would be used to verify that the operator has taken the necessary precautions to prevent migration of fluids into the annulus from the fracture zone to the usable water horizons” and the results of a pressure test. After fracking, the operator would have to submit to the government a record of the types of chemicals used in the process and the amounts.
The rule includes “improving assurances on well-bore integrity to verify that fluids used in wells during fracturing operations are not escaping” and “confirming that oil and gas operators have a water management plan in place for handling fracturing fluids that flow back to the surface.”
The Sierra Club balked that the proposed rules don’t go far enough, but made clear that the acceptable solution in their book would be no fracking at all.
“While it is deeply disappointing that fracking on sensitive public lands has been considered at all, we fully expect the administration to implement the toughest safeguards possible to rein in irresponsible practices and protect our public spaces,” the Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement today. “We look forward to working closely with the administration to ensure that happens.”
Today, an environmental coalition called on the EPA to ban the use of diesel in fracking operations.
“The natural gas industry has been using this dangerous fuel for fracking, showing once again that they cannot be trusted to police themselves,” Brune said.
The EPA is conducting a study to be released at the end of this year making determinations on the impact fracking has on drinking water and groundwater.
Some note that the Interior Department’s chemical reporting regulations would be in line with some states’ rules on fracking. But Bishop said it’s just the latest indication of a “crucify” strategy that still exists even as regional EPA administrator Al Armendariz slipped out the door in the wake of his comments being revealed.
“The administration’s efforts to snuff out many forms of domestically produced energy have been thinly veiled at best,” Bishop said. “The EPA administrator who was captured on tape saying that the goal was to ‘crucify’ oil and gas companies perfectly illustrates the administration’s position on domestic energy production.”
The congressman noted the hypocrisy of Obama touting a rise in energy production while casting a shadow over the extraction method responsible for that rise.
“In just the last month we have seen new regulations placed on the production of clean coal and natural gas,” Bishop said.
“We can be responsible stewards of our natural resources while also encouraging and supporting clean safe energy production on our public lands. The two are not mutually exclusive.”