Gas drillers get more time to comment on U.S. fracking rules

The Obama administration gave U.S. natural-gas producers more time to comment on draft standards for disclosing chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, rules an industry group has said are unnecessary.

The Interior Department will add 60 days to the comment period, spokesman Adam Fetcher said today in an e-mail. Comments on the fracking-disclosure rules had been due by July 10.

“To ensure that the public and key stakeholders, including industry and public-health groups, are able to provide important feedback that will help inform a final rule, Interior has decided to extend the public-comment period,” Fetcher said. “We don’t expect this extension will have an impact on the timing for a final rule later this year.”

The draft rules, introduced on May 4, would require companies exploring for natural gas to disclose the chemicals used in the process known as fracking and adhere to well design standards.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America, a Washington-based group representing drillers, called the proposed rules “an unnecessary layer of rigidity” in an e-mail sent after the agency released the standards.

Fracking, used by companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., helped the U.S. become the world’s largest natural-gas producer.

“The rule should not be delayed,” Amy Mall, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an e- mail today.”Americans across the country are concerned about risks to their drinking water and the health of their children near fracking sites and can’t afford to wait.”