Salazar says fracking rules coming in ‘a few weeks’


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday his department would formally unveil its highly anticipated rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in “a few weeks.”

The Interior Department has worked on a trio of rules that would require companies operating on federal lands to disclose the chemicals in their fracturing fluids (with a trade-secret exemption), impose standards meant to ensure wells can withstand fracturing and require companies to explain how they plan to dispose of flowback water.

“If we are going to be successful, the public needs to have confidence that fracking operations are being conducted safely, and that drinking water supplies are protected,” Salazar said.

His remarks came at the City Club of Cleveland, where Salazar gave a much broader discussion of President Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy-policy vision that he outlined in his State of the Union address. Obama called for more production of oil and natural gas with safeguards to protect the environment while also saying the nation needed to double down on renewable energy.

A leaked draft of the fracturing rules came under fire from oil-and-gas groups, which called the proposals redundant with what many states and industry itself are already doing and saying they would further impede oil-and-gas development on federal lands.

Industry has tapped vast new pockets of natural gas in shale formations thanks to innovations in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, in which mixtures of water, sand and chemicals are injected underground at high pressures to break up rock and free up trapped oil and gas. Environmentalists contend fracturing can contaminate drinking water supplies, while industry insists the practice is safe.

Environmental advocates note that many states still don’t have disclosure requirements and some states’ requirements aren’t as stringent as what Interior plans to propose.

Salazar said fracturing is already being done safely “in most cases.” But he defended the rules, saying not moving forward with them could undermine public confidence in unconventional natural-gas production enough to serve as its “Achilles heel.” He also said the American people have a right to have their public lands used in a “responsible way.”

“To me those rules are common sense,” he said. He rejected the notion that the rules would “kill jobs,” saying that many industries such as farming depend on having soil, land and water that aren’t polluted.

Interior would have to take public comment on the rules once they’re proposed.

Puneet Kollipara

12 Responses

  1. s3 says:

    Of course, you’re only saying it because you know it’s not true.

  2. Ivy Leagr says:

    in what way has it been illegal s3? What has changed is everyone jumping on the enviro-band wagon because they heard about this “new” technology of hydraulic fracturing and how it is destroying everything in its path. Also the belief that no one is regulating anything and the evil oil companies are working un-checked.

  3. s3 says:

    Edit: Sorry, that should read “energy industry” not “oil industry.”

  4. s3 says:

    It’s been illegal for at least 60 years now — that may have been what you meant to say.

    The only thing that’s changed lately is the extent to which the oil industry is scampering far out of their way to find ways to indulge in the cheap thrill of getting away with something.

  5. Adler says:

    Funny, hydralic fracturing has been around for 60 years, and hasn’t been a problem until Obama took office.

    What changed in the past 3 years? Not fracking, so it must be Obama.

    BTW, most of the chemicals used to perform hydraulic fraturing treatments can be found in the normal home, mostly in the kitchen.

  6. Art Vandeley says:

    Can’t wait for 2013 when we will not have to see this Obama puppet in that silly cowboy hat. Does he know just how dumb…… oh nevermind.

  7. CAD1936 says:

    The O & G industry will be satisfied with nothing less than a Carta Blanc.

  8. txloanguy says:

    Yeah, the new rules are going to make so many new hurdles to fracking that it won’t happen. We can’t hurt those little snail darters while we freeze in the dark.

  9. scott41 says:

    If the rules are being written by All Hat No Horse Salazar and the rest of the Obama admin rest assured that they will be used to limit fracking and punish any non green company attempting to supply the US with the energy it desperately needs to function.

  10. Trail_Tramp says:

    Ironic that Salazar should cite farming as needing water that is not polluted. Run off from farming is one of the major sources of pollution of fresh water.

  11. s3 says:

    These fracking guys are freaks. Why let states or individuals control their own destiny when you can literally undermine them?

    Unfortunately it seems like the legal system (especially in Texas) particularly in the case of issues relating to oil and gas has been “captured” to the point where it is no longer a reliable source of arbitration.

    My sincerest hope is that fracking opponents (including private landowners having their livelihood sucked out from under them) and their extensive allies do not resort to extra-legal means of arbitration. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching Mexico over the past decade, it’s that when faith in government collapses people find their own means of solving “problems” related to turf invasion.

  12. Bill in Houston says:

    Salazar is a troll in a hat. He (and his boss) can’t go fast enough.