House GOP bill would thwart Interior’s ‘fracking’ regs

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc HastingsDoc HastingsCongress just resolved a 20-year debate over Neolithic remains Boehner hires new press secretary GOP plots new course on Endangered Species Act reform MORE (R-Wash.) and other GOP lawmakers are pushing legislation to block looming Interior Department regulations that govern the oil-and-gas “fracking” on public lands.

The bill is highly unlikely to become law but it signals ongoing GOP political pushback against the rules, which critics say are not needed and will create costly red tape.

The measure introduced Thursday by Rep. Bill FloresBill FloresGun proposal picks up GOP support Gingrich: Banning rapid fire gun modification is ‘common sense’ GOP lawmaker to unveil bill banning gun bump stocks MORE (R-Texas), Hastings and three others will be the subject of a July 25 House Natural Resources Committee hearing. It’s called the “Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act.”

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It would prevent Interior from enforcing regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in states that that already have their own rules or permit requirements.

The bill explicitly says Interior must defer to state rules even if they are less restrictive than federal mandates.

GOP lawmakers and oil-and-gas industry groups say that state-level oversight of fracking – the method enabling the U.S. oil-and-gas production boom – protects the environment and public health.

But Interior officials, noting that some states have tougher oversight than others, say baseline federal standards are needed to oversee fracking in order to protect groundwater and other resources.

The federal rules, which are not yet final, would require disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process, and also create standards around well integrity and management of so-called flowback water.

Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellOvernight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick GOP chairman probes Zinke’s charter plane use MORE, at a House hearing Wednesday, said Interior’s rule defers to states that have equal or more stringent oversight than the federal standards.