Salazar: Interior closing in on gas ‘fracking’ rules

“We are in the process of looking exactly at how we are going to shape the rules, and you will hear more on what we are going to be doing on natural gas fracking in the next several weeks,” Salazar said.

“We are in the process of trying to put together a final package,” he said, although Interior officials say there is no specific timeline yet for a proposed rule.

Interior first indicated it was weighing fracking disclosure rules in late 2010.

Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations, which open up cracks that enable trapped gas to flow.

The method has created a natural gas boom in many states, but is bringing concerns about groundwater pollution and other public health threats along with it.

Obama mentioned the upcoming rules while touting his support for expanded U.S. natural gas development, comments Salazar echoed Monday.

“What the president said in his State of the Union is that natural gas is very much a part of our future and we are going to develop it, and we are also going to develop it in a safe and environmentally responsible way,” Salazar said.

In addition to chemical disclosure provisions, the rules are expected to address wellbore integrity and management of large volumes of water that are brought back to the surface in the fracking process.

Salazar did not say whether the upcoming draft rules, which have come under attack from some Republicans, would be finalized before the 2012 elections. 

He spoke to reporters after joining Energy Secretary Steven Chu and others for a ceremony to celebrate installation of new energy-efficient lighting on the National Mall.

The lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania donated 174 LED bulbs for the bronze streetlamps that line the mall, and Pepco installed them pro-bono.

They will reduce the streetlamps’ energy demand by up to 65 percent, according to Interior.