Opinion: Stronger role is needed for federal regulation of fracking

"America’s energy future has been transformed by the production of natural gas made possible by hydraulic fracturing. This gas is a much cleaner source of electricity than coal. The problem is that the fracturing process used to extract the gas can, if done improperly, pollute surface and drinking water and emit dangerous air pollution.

States like Texas, Pennsylvania and New York are now rushing to impose their own rules. But what we really need is a system of federal oversight that will promote confidence in this technique and provide the industry with uniform standards without overregulating it.

The federal government has the power to regulate some but not all the risks. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has set standards to control emissions of toxic and greenhouse gases from the drilling process and is considering new rules for polluted wastewater. But in 2005, Congress exempted the fracturing process itself — a process in which huge quantities of water, sand and toxic chemicals are injected into tight shale rock, to force open the rock and capture the gas trapped within — from federal regulation. "

Get the Story:
Jody Freeman: The Wise Way to Regulate Gas Drilling (The New York Times 7/6)

Federal Register Notice:
Oil and Gas; Well Stimulation, Including Hydraulic Fracturing, on Federal and Indian Lands (June 26, 2012)

Related Stories:
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Native Sun News: Tribes face deadline on fracking regulations (6/26)
Native Sun News: DOI seeks to regulate fracking with new rule (05/11)
Editorial: New DOI regulation makes fracking a safer practice (05/11)
Coalition of Large Tribes criticizes DOI regulation for fracking (5/10)
DOI rule claims authority to regulate fracking on reservations (5/9)
Editorial: EPA's fracking rules will help reduce air pollution (4/25)
Audio: Subcommittee hearing on fracking on tribal lands (4/19)
Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee hearing (4/18)
House hearings on tribal energy and Pascua Yaqui land bill (4/10)
North Dakota tribe asks Congress to block fracking proposal (3/30)
Blackfeet Nation brings fracking technology to reservation (3/28)

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