This week the Secretary Salazar, Department of Interior (DOI), sent proposed draft regulations to the White House on hydraulic fracturing activity on federal lands. Typically the regulation of oil and gas development has been the domain of the states. However, in this case Secretary Salazar felt compelled to provide the states with model regulations.
Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes explained that these new regulations would be compatible with existing regulations in Texas, Wyoming and other states. This statement begs the question, if Interior’s proposed regulations are going to be compatible with current state regulations why do they feel the need to draft these regulations in the first place?
The regulations in Texas, Wyoming, Colorado and Pennsylvania are all fine blue prints that other states can follow – they don’t need the DOI to create new federal regulations! The proposed draft regulations are reported to require disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracturing process and likely do not provide companies with adequate protection of confidential business information (CBI).
President Obama said in his State of the Union Address that he wanted to pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. That strategy needs to include the development of natural gas and fracking. According to a study by PwC and the NAM shale gas development can create more than a million manufacturing jobs in the next ten years.
The shale gas revolution has already created thousands of new jobs and revitalized a number of communities across the United States. The supply of natural gas has been a boon to manufacturers that use natural gas as a feed stock and as a fuel, but this Administration appears set on slowing domestic natural gas production. Three agencies are looking for ways to regulate shale gas: EPA, DOE and DOI. If this Administration is allowed to regulate hydraulic fracturing in the manner they desire, you can be sure that our abundant domestic supply of natural gas will greatly diminish.
Chip Yost is vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.