Today, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Subcommittee (SEAB) on Shale Gas Production released its second and final ninety-day report which analyzes the progress that has been made on the recommendations of its previous report, issued on August 18, 2011. The new report criticizes federal agencies, state governments, industry and public interest groups for not moving quickly enough on its recommendations of increased regulation on hydraulic fracturing – a critical technology that allow us to access the nation’s rich shale gas resources.
For example, the SEAB urges more regulatory action on the following areas:
- Air Emissions – Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently working on regulations that would reduce emissions at hydraulic fracturing sites, the SEAB’s report claims the proposed rules do not go far enough and should be expanded to include more wells.
- Chemical Disclosure – The SEAB wants to see more disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid and believes that there should be an extremely high bar for trade secret protection. The subcommittee quickly discounts current efforts underway including voluntary disclosure websites such as fracfocus.org and the Department of Interior’s (DOI) intent to require the disclosure of fracturing fluid composition on federal lands.
- Water Discharge Standards – The EPA is currently in the process of studying the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water and has also announced a schedule setting waste water discharge standards for some fracturing activities. The SEAB, however, believes that the EPA should not wait until the study is complete to take additional regulatory actions.
The SEAB’s draft report outlines unrealistic expectations and does little to highlight the efforts that industry and regulators have already made to ensure that these activities are conducted safely. It is unreasonable to expect that industry and federal, state and local regulators could institute complex new regulatory programs in three months. Increased access to our nation’s shale gas resources means more affordable energy and more jobs for our nation’s struggling economy. The SEAB’s recommendations to pile on unnecessary and complex regulations could quickly put an end to the nation’s shale gas revolution.