By Ben Geman – The Hill
The White House is threatening to veto House GOP bills that would thwart Interior Department hydraulic fracturing rules and force regulators to speed up oil and gas drilling permits.
In a pair of statements Tuesday morning, the White House slammed two GOP energy bills slated for votes this week, arguing that they would dismantle important environmental protections.
The bill to block planned Interior Department regulation of the oil and gas extraction technique dubbed fracking would prevent Interior from ensuring that it occurs in a “safe and responsible manner,” the White House said.
“The bill, as reported, would undermine these efforts and instead require [Interior’s Bureau of Land Management] to defer to existing State regulations on hydraulic fracturing on Federal lands, regardless of the quality or comprehensiveness of the State regulations — thereby preventing consistent environmental protections,” the White House said of the bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas).
Interior is preparing rules, which would apply to fracking that occurs on federal and Indian lands, that force disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process, and create standards around well integrity and management of so-called flowback water.
A second and broader bill on the floor this week would set new deadlines for issuing drilling permits; set a floor on the amount of land offered for oil and gas leases; and charge activists thousands of dollars in fees to lodge formal protests of leases and permits, among other provisions.