House Democrats Seek Tighter Regulation of Fracking on Federal Lands and BLM Extends its Comment Period
Describing the proposed BLM rule for fracking as “a good first step,” a group of 38 Democrats in the House of Representatives called for disclosure of fracking chemicals before drilling. The proposed regulations require disclosure of fracking chemicals only after the operation is complete. In a letter to the Department of the Interior, the lawmakers said that increasing transparency is an “important start to what we hope will be broader, comprehensive energy development policies that will embrace best practices for both traditional and renewable energy development.” The letter cites Wyoming as a state that properly requires disclosure of the chemicals that will be used before drilling commences.
The letter was spearheaded by several proponents of tighter fracking regulations – Representatives Maurice Hinchey (NY), Diana DeGette (CO), Jared Polis (CO) and Raul Grijalva (AZ). None of the signatories represent Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus Shale is fueling both the economy and environmentalists’ concerns.
Responding to these concerns from lawmakers and environmentalists, some drilling companies are voluntarily releasing more details about their operations. Websites like FracFocus (also discussed in a May 8, 2012, post on the California Environmental Law Blog) offer a venue for operators to provide this information to the public.
In response to the industry’s request for more time to comment on the proposed rule, BLM extended the public comment period by 60 days to September 10. BLM indicated when it issued the proposed rule that it planned to finalize the rule by the end of 2012.