By Zack Colman - 04/22/13 06:11 PM EDT
Oil-and-gas interests have worried that federal fracking rules would not account for geological differences across the country, an issue Jewell's statement appeared to directly address.
Fracking involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight-rock formations to tap hydrocarbons buried deep underground. The drilling method has been credited with the domestic energy boom in the United States.
Industry wants to keep fracking regulated at the state level, noting states have done so years. Oil-and-gas interests contend states have a better understanding of the best fracking methods to use on their own lands.
Jewell alluded to that sentiment Monday, referencing her past experience as a drilling engineer with Mobil in Oklahoma.
“Fracking as a technique has been around for decades. … I have performed the procedure myself very safely,” Jewell said.
The Obama administration pulled back on finalizing the pending rules early this year amid industry pressure. The rules are expected to address several issues, including managing so-called flowback water and maintaining well integrity.
Still, Jewell noted the technology has evolved since her days with Mobil. She said the new practices have invited “concern” that require federal oversight.
Green groups have been the primary opponents of fracking. They contend the practice pollutes groundwater, and that it releases heat-trapping methane into the air.