House panel to act on bill to bar federal role in fracking

24 July 2013 22:31  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--A key House panel will vote on Thursday on a bill that would limit the federal role in regulating hydraulic fracturing, protect state rights and allow more job creation, said Representative Doc Hastings (Republican-Washington) on Wednesday.

Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that HR-2728 will be taken up by one of his committee’s subcommittees, Energy and Mineral Resources.

“States have been successfully regulating fracking for 60 years,” Hastings said, “and the federal government needs to acknowledge the good work that the states have been doing in this.”

Hastings described the growing federal effort to regulate fracking as a classic example of needless interference.

“Fracking has been successful in every state, and there is not a single case of groundwater contamination,” he said, “so fracking laws and regulations in the states are successful.”

The bill, introduced by Representative Bill Flores (Republican-Texas), would if passed prohibit the US Department of the Interior (DOI) from enforcing any federal fracking regulations in any state that already has regulations.

The DOI has authority over drilling and mining operations.

The bill also recognises states’ longstanding authority to regulate this type of activity, Flores said.

As many as 10 federal government agencies have launched 14 studies of fracking and its possible environmental consequences.

Flores said that his bill would recognise the effectiveness of state regulations “by halting overreaching federal involvement in hydraulic fracturing operations”.

“Recent statistics have shown that oil and natural gas activities have decreased significantly on federal lands compared with activity levels on state and private lands across the nation,” Flores said.

“Burdensome and duplicative federal regulations are largely responsible for this inhibited activity,” he added.

The US petrochemical producers have voiced concerns about federal involvement in fracking regulation, fearing that a multi-front federal intervention could chill shale gas production and undermine the chemical sector’s new feedstock advantage over high-cost chemical makers abroad.

The Flores bill has bipartisan support and is expected to clear the subcommittee and be handed on to Hastings’ full Natural Resources Committee where it also is likely to be approved.

But even if the measure clears the full House, it faces an uncertain future in the Democrat-majority Senate.

By: Joe Kamalick
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