Chu vows to ‘chart a path’ for safe gas drilling

The report didn’t wade into how to balance state and federal regulation or detail specific regulatory ideas.

While the report was submitted to Chu, regulation of the process dubbed “fracking” largely falls to other agencies. Environmentalists are pushing for various new controls, such as an end to exemptions from certain Environmental Protection Agency water rules, and new chemical testing requirements.

But the oil-and-gas industry is pushing back against calls for an expansion of federal rules. The American Petroleum Institute, in written comments on the report this week, states:

Rather than deferring on the proper role of state governments, we recommend the Subcommittee acknowledge the success that has been demonstrated through state-level programs. Regulation of oil and natural gas has been led by states since the inception of the industry and has demonstrated a high degree of capability and flexibility in adapting to changes such as those seen with unconventional gas development. States have created systems that effectively protected the environment, including ground water and drinking water sources.

Here is Secretary Chu’s entire statement Thursday:

I want to first commend the work of the Subcommittee, led by John Deutch, for producing a practical, thoughtful and insightful report. I know each member committed significant time and energy to this exercise, and it shows in the final product. As the President has said, natural gas will continue to play an important role in our nation’s energy portfolio, helping create jobs, stimulate the economy, and reduce our dependence on imported oil. But the President’s commitment to continuing to leverage this abundant domestic fuel source – and increasing energy independence, creating jobs, and building our 21st century clean energy economy – is built on our ability, working with industry, to improve the environmental performance of the processes that have allowed us to take full advantage of this important resource.  What we can do now to increase safe and responsible production of natural gas is directly connected to our long-term ability to develop this fuel source.
The report recommends measures to increase public disclosure and transparency and address concerns about air and water pollution.  The report also recommends a range of tools for implementing these measures, including regulation, continuous improvement in best practices by industry, and ongoing research and development.
I will be working closely with my colleagues in the Administration to review the recommendations and to chart a path for continued development of this vital energy resource in a safe manner.