GOP demands major industry voice on federal gas ‘fracking’ panel

The report language underscores industry and GOP concern about potential new regulations hindering natural-gas development.

A new panel of the existing Secretary of Energy Advisory Board recently began a review that will lead to recommendations on improving the “safety and environmental performance” of fracking.

The technique involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations, which opens cracks that enable trapped gas to flow.

The panel is headed by John Deutch, the MIT professor who was a top Energy Department official in the Carter administration and CIA director in the Clinton administration. A full list of members is here.

The committee on Wednesday rejected a Democratic amendment — sponsored by Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) — that would have struck the report language.

“It is outrageous that the Republican majority opposed our common-sense effort to ensure members of federal advisory boards are unbiased and without conflicts of interest,” Lowey said in a statement.

“Allowing the shale gas industry to put a thumb on the scale of this board makes it more likely that the decisions it makes will focus more on profits and less on the safety of our water sources, Americans’ health and environmental preservation,” she said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is already studying the impact of fracking on groundwater and drinking water.