House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and other GOP lawmakers are pushing legislation to block looming Interior Department regulations that govern the oil-and-gas “fracking” on public lands.
The bill is highly unlikely to become law but it signals ongoing GOP political pushback against the rules, which critics say are not needed and will create costly red tape.
The measure introduced Thursday by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Hastings and three others will be the subject of a July 25 House Natural Resources Committee hearing. It’s called the “Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act.”
The bill explicitly says Interior must defer to state rules even if they are less restrictive than federal mandates.
GOP lawmakers and oil-and-gas industry groups say that state-level oversight of fracking – the method enabling the U.S. oil-and-gas production boom – protects the environment and public health.
But Interior officials, noting that some states have tougher oversight than others, say baseline federal standards are needed to oversee fracking in order to protect groundwater and other resources.
The federal rules, which are not yet final, would require disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process, and also create standards around well integrity and management of so-called flowback water.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, at a House hearing Wednesday, said Interior’s rule defers to states that have equal or more stringent oversight than the federal standards.