White House begins gas ‘fracking’ rule review

Interior sent the proposal that requires disclosure of fracking chemicals to OMB for review on Wednesday, according to OMB’s website.

Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations, which open up cracks that enable trapped gas to flow. 

The method has created a natural-gas boom in many states, but is bringing concerns about groundwater pollution and other public health threats along with it.

The Interior rules will require disclosure of the components used in fracking fluids, as well as provisions governing management of large volumes of “flowback” water from drilling sites and measures to ensure wellbore integrity.

Obama administration officials say they strongly support natural-gas development but that new safeguards are needed.

At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, Salazar said the rules are necessary to ensure trust in the safety of the widespread fracking, noting that absent the disclosure, public doubts could become the “Achilles heel” of the gas-drilling boom.

But several Republicans attacked the planned rules at Wednesday’s Natural Resources Committee hearing on Interior’s budget plan.

Committee Chairman Doc HastingsRichard (Doc) Norman 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.) said the rules will “add significant barriers and delays” to gas development.