By Ben Geman - 04/16/12 01:45 PM EDT
The EPA is issuing the rules under a settlement with environmental groups, while the oil-and-gas industry has warned that regulators are planning overly aggressive requirements.
The rules are just one part of wider battles over hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” which involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to open up seams that enable trapped hydrocarbons to flow.
The Interior Department is planning soon to propose rules to regulate fracking on public lands by requiring disclosure of chemical ingredients, in addition to well-integrity and water management requirements.
From gas to gasoline ...
Gasoline prices eased slightly over the last week, but that won’t stop Capitol Hill Republicans from continuing their political assault on the White House over pain at the pump.
This week a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will mark up a pair of bills that will serve as platforms for criticism of administration policies.
One bill would prevent EPA from finalizing several air pollution rules, such as new fuel emissions standards, until a Cabinet-level interagency panel reviews their effects on gasoline and diesel prices.
The other bill would require that any drawdown of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve be accompanied by an increase in the federal lands and waters made available for oil and natural-gas drilling.
Opening statements for the Energy and Power subcommittee markup will take place Monday afternoon, but the real action will take place Tuesday.
What else to watch ...
This week House Republicans plan to tether legislation to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to the extension of transportation programs. Much more on that here.
Friday brings the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The April 20, 2010, blowout of BP’s Macondo well and explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and touched off the spill that eventually poured more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
On Tuesday, members of the now-disbanded panel the White House formed in the spill’s aftermath —the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling — will issue a “report card” on progress since the disaster.
It will cover implementation of the commission’s recommendations, and progress — or lack thereof — by Congress, the administration and industry.
White House and Interior Department officials did not comment at press time on how they will mark the anniversary.
Offshore drilling safety legislation has stalled in Congress, but the Interior Department, acting under its existing powers, has overhauled and toughened oversight in the wake of the spill.
There are also several noteworthy hearings this week.
On Tuesday the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “Tapping America’s unconventional oil resources for job creation and affordable domestic energy: Technology and policy pathways.”
On Wednesday the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight panel will look at “budget and spending concerns” at the Department of Energy.
On Thursday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will gather for a hearing about the impacts of rising sea levels on domestic energy and water infrastructure.