Senate Dems call for 'strongest possible' fracking regs

A group of Senate Democrats called for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Friday to issue the "strongest possible" safety standards for fracking operations on public lands.

The Interior Department recently sent its rule on fracking, a horizontal drilling method for oil and gas that pumps chemicals and water into the ground to break up deposits, to the OMB for final review.

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Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyDems: Keep gun research ban out of spending bills Overnight Tech: Groups grade Clinton tech agenda | Facebook activates safety check in Istanbul | Another holdup for location data bill Overnight Cybersecurity: US sees drop in Chinese cyberattacks MORE (Mass.) led the letter signed by 11 other Democrats to OMB Director Shaun Donovan on Tuesday.

“As OMB finalizes this rule we urge you to issue the strongest possible safeguards to ensure that public health, safety and our environment are protected,” the letter states.

“As stewards of these lands and resources for the American people it is therefore critical that the final rule for hydraulic fracturing on public lands offers stringent protections for the safety of workers, our water, air, lands and public health," it adds.

Markey joined Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and others telling the OMB it should ensure the final rule includes "public disclosure of all chemicals and other additives."

The proposed rule does not include such disclosures. The senators also ask that the final rule include a transparent and permanent database to document the chemical disclosures.

Additionally, the senators highlight a need for strong requirements for "well constructions and integrity and wastewater management."

The natural gas industry says it has already started to make improvements to cut methane leaks and improve well integrity.

The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing whether to propose regulations for methane emissions from industry. It will announce this fall if it will propose such standards or push voluntary measures.

Environmental groups and Democrats have pressed the administration to act on methane emissions from fracking, arguing rules are necessary for the president to fulfill his promise to act on climate change.