Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is striking back at oil-and-gas companies that claim state-level regulation of “fracking” is strong enough to render federal rules that he's crafting a pointless layer of red tape.
Reuters caught up with Salazar off the coast of Norway, where he’s on a visit to meet with industry officials and his Norwegian counterparts about offshore drilling safety practices.
“There are some who are saying that it's not something we ought to do; it should be left up to the states. That's not good enough for me, because states are at very different level, some have zero, some have decent rules,” Salazar told Reuters while aboard a Statoil platform in the North Sea.
Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into shale formations to open seams that enable hydrocarbons to flow. The method is enabling a natural-gas production boom in the United States, but is bringing fears of pollution along with it.
Interior floated draft rules in May
that require industry disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking
process. The draft rules also address well integrity and management of
so-called flowback water.
The Obama administration plans to complete the rules by the end of the year despite a recent decision to bow to industry wishes and allow more time for public comment on the proposal.
Industry groups say the rules will pile on new costs and bureaucracy that could slow development. But Obama administration officials say that while they support expanded drilling, better oversight is needed.
“Shale gas has provided the United States the opportunity to have 100 years of supply that is domestically produced. If we are going to develop natural gas from shale, it has to be done in a safe and responsible manner,” Salazar told Reuters.