On April 13, President Obama issued an executive order creating an interagency task force to coordinate federal oversight and regulation of shale gas development.  The executive order was made in response to complaints by  the NAM and others that a dozen federal agencies were considering oversight or regulation of shale gas and hydraulic fracturing—in addition to robust state regulation of the industry.

Fast-forward two months, and very little seems to have changed.  Since then, we’ve received a final regulation from EPA on fracking emissions and two new proposed rules from Interior and EPA that toughen the regulation of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

But even though the pace of regulation isn’t slowing down, the feds are at least coordinating, right?  Maybe not.  We’ve seen little evidence that the interagency task force is impacting these proposed regulations.  To top it all off, we’re getting mixed messages from the regulators themselves. 

On Friday, a top administration official stated that the proposed Interior regulation will be delayed because “there are some pretty significant things within that proposal that need to be fixed and addressed.”  Come Monday, a spokesperson for Interior and that same White House official both declared that the regulation is on track and will be issued by the end of the year.

When the Executive Order was issued in April, NAM CEO Jay Timmons praised the establishment of a ‘one stop shop’ for research and information to promote shale gas development, and looked forward to providing input to the working group to ensure that manufacturers and our nation’s energy needs are well represented.  Unfortunately, none of that seems to be happening—at least yet. 

Ross Eisenberg is vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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