Ag Policy Blog
Todd Neeley DTN Staff Reporter

Tuesday 12/18/12

State Officials ask White House to end Fracking Rule

Two state officials have asked the White House and other federal officials to call off a proposal to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands, saying in a letter Monday that the states are better equipped to ensure groundwater safety from the practice that uses high pressure spraying and chemicals to free up natural gas supplies from underground rock formations.

In the letter Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said "the strong and efficient track record of states to regulate oil and natural gas production — as well as the rule's significant and destructive impacts on our states — should not be ignored, and needs to be taken into serious consideration."

There are growing concerns in recent years about the way fracking operations might affect water quality in rural areas, including private wells used by farmers for drinking, irrigation and livestock.

Two agriculture interest groups have come out on opposite sides on the issue.

The American Farm Bureau Federation supports additional access for exploration and production of oil and natural gas, including the use of fracking. The National Farmers Union, on the other hand, supports mandatory disclosure of materials used in drilling and fracking.

In places like Colorado, some farm and environmental groups are concerned that as fracking expands it will take more water away from farmers in the northeast part of the state. Water used in fracking is not recovered. Colorado has a similar reporting law on the books, that requires energy companies to report the chemicals used.

Northeast Colorado has seen explosive growth in fracking in an area where farmers already face tough competition for water resources with municipalities and environmental interests, all amid growing drought concerns.

Just last week the U.S. Department of the Interior released a study of the Colorado River basin, addressing possible ways to meet future demands for water.

Perhaps the most controversial proposal is to build a pipeline to transport water from the Missouri River to the basin, http://tinyurl.com/….

The proposed fracking reporting rule from the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management would require energy companies to report chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations to extract oil and natural gas on public and tribal lands.

The governors said in the letter that the rule was "arbitrary and capricious" and that it offers "erroneous cost estimates, clearly overstated and unfounded benefits, and failure to take into account the strong objections of affected states."

Pruitt and Jindal said the rule would lead to "economic harm" from increased costs to citizens and investors.

"The states, not the federal government, are best positioned to appropriately regulate hydraulic fracturing operations. Current state regulations already provide effective and efficient oversight that is specific to the needs of the states," they wrote in the letter.

The governors estimate that the rule would cost the oil and natural gas industries more than $100 million per year to comply.

They said the rule "grossly underestimates" the investment and employment costs of implementation.

Currently there is no specific requirement for operators to report chemicals used on federal and Indian lands, according to the Bureau. About 90% of the wells drilled use fracking. The proposed rule would require public disclosure of chemicals used during fracking after operations are completed.

The proposed rule would apply to BLM-managed lands including 700 million subsurface acres and 56 million subsurface acres of Indian land.

View the governors' letter here, http://tinyurl.com/….

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Posted at 7:49AM CST 12/18/12 by Todd Neeley
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