By Ben Geman - 12/01/10 02:28 PM EST
Hydraulic fracturing — dubbed “fracking” — involves high-pressure injections of chemicals, water and sand to break apart rock formations and enable gas to flow.
The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a study of the practice, which environmentalists fear could lead to widespread groundwater contamination as development expands. But oil-and-gas companies, and their allies, say the fears are overblown and that companies safely isolate the fluids from groundwater.
“Here again, Secretary Salazar seems to be choosing to hinder energy production in favor of new and restrictive policies that inhibit domestic energy production that leads to a greater reliance on foreign and often unstable supplies of energy resources. It’s disappointing that for every step forward, Secretary Salazar insists on taking two steps back,” Bishop said.
Republican control of the House next year will give Bishop and other administration critics more chances to attack White House energy policies.
Salazar revealed that Interior is mulling disclosure rules at a forum Tuesday with natural gas companies, environmental groups and other stakeholders.
"Yesterday’s forum was a productive discussion about the importance of natural gas development on public lands given that it provides jobs and helps with our energy independence. The Department of the Interior has a responsibility to ensure that natural gas development on our federal public lands takes place in the right way and in the right places so that our natural resources and our communities are protected," said Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff in a statement Wednesday.
"We look forward to continuing to work with industry, other federal agencies, the public, and Congress as we consider the appropriate next steps," she added.
This post was updated at 10:13 a.m.