Editorial: DOI's new fracking regulations strike the right balance


A fracking operation in North Dakota. Photo by Joshua Doubek / Wikipedia

The Washington Post welcomes new fracking regulations issued by the Interior Department:
The Interior Department understandably wants to ensure that its standards for oil and gas operations conducted on public land, which haven’t been updated in decades, reflect the reality of the fracking boom and allay concerns about water contamination near well sites. The department will require that the cement meant to separate wells from groundwater is thoroughly tested before operations begin, for example. It will also require that water flowing back to the surface be collected in above-ground storage tanks rather than in lined pits, and it will insist that drillers list which chemicals they used on an industry Web site within 30 days. Interior reckons that the requirements will cost a measly $11,400 per well, a fraction of a percentage of total drilling costs.

Among other things, environmentalists insist that drillers should have to publicly disclose the chemicals they intend to use before beginning a job. Interior counters that it’s more important to know what drillers used than it is to have a guess about what they will use before beginning work. The industry, meanwhile, says the states are already doing an adequate job regulating fracking within their borders and that Interior should just make sure those rules are followed. The Obama administration has an answer for that, too: The federal government has leased out public land for oil and gas production in 32 states, and the rules across them are simply too inconsistent. Besides, Interior will defer to states with rules as strong as or stronger than the ones it released Friday.

Unlike the various special interests around the country, the Obama administration is getting the balance right on fracking.

Get the Story:
Editorial: The Obama administration strikes the right balance on fracking regulations (The Washington Post 4/1)

Federal Register Notice:
Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands (March 26, 2015)

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