New Rules for Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing well. 
Hydraulic fracturing well. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The Obama administration has imposed tougher restrictions on oil and gas “fracking” operations on public lands. The reason is to lower the risk of water contamination from the controversial practice.

The regulations represent the most significant effort to tighten standards for hydraulic fracturing.

This is one of the techniques that helped make the United States the world’s No.1 producer of natural gas.

However, it is a controversial method and has a fierce debate over environmental consequences.

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The rules only apply to oil and gas drilling on federal lands, which is only about a quarter of the country’s current fossil-fuel output.

Fracking, as it is commonly known, involves injecting liquids into underground rock formations at high pressure to extract oil and gas that would be all but inaccessible using conventional methods. In the decade since the technology became widely available, the practice has revolutionized the country’s natural-gas industry, while also raising fears about groundwater pollution and even a heightened risk of earthquakes, The Washington Post said on their website.

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Interior officials have also introduced new transparency measures that require firms to publicly disclose the types of the chemical additives they use.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, in announcing the regulations, said the “common-sense” changes would allow “responsible development while protecting natural resources.”

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“Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old, and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” said Jewell, who started her career as an engineer working on oil rigs in Oklahoma. With millions of acres of federal land open to oil and gas exploration, “it is absolutely critical the public have confidence that transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place,” she said.

It is a hot subject, but I wonder why the new rules are only for federal lands and not for privately owned lands, therefore protecting all the public.

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