The Obama administration is setting new standards for the controversial hydraulic fracturing process, the first major federal effort to crack down on the practice that has largely been behind the nation’s oil and natural gas boom.
The fracking standards only apply to drilling on leased federal land and land owned by American Indian tribes, which account for less than a quarter of the country’s oil production and 17 percent of its gas. The vast majority of fracking happens off federal land, regulators said.
The long-awaited rules from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are meant, in part, to ease public fears about a practice that involves pumping fluids miles underground to extract oil and gas from small pockets in rock.
“This rule will move our nation forward as we ensure responsible development while protecting public land resources,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters. “That’s good for the public; it’s good for industry; it’s good government.”
Jewell said the Interior Department’s current rules for oil and gas drilling do not sufficiently account for modern advances in fracking.congc
“We need to update our regulations to make sure they can keep up with evolving technologies and innovation by industry,” she said.
BLM Director Neil Kornze said environmental responsibility is an essential component of managing federal and Indian land.