The U.S. Interior Department has introduced the government’s first major regulations on hydraulic fracturing, covering about 100,000 oil and gas wells drilled on public lands.
“Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old, and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, a petroleum engineer with past experience in fracking fields. With the large majority of fracking taking place on private and state lands under state jurisdiction, she added that further regulation “must now be taken up in statehouses and boardrooms across the country.”
While the fracking boom “has put the United States on track to soon become the world’s largest oil and gas producer,” the Times reports, “environmentalists fear that the technique, which involves injecting a cocktail of chemicals deep underground to break up the rocks around oil and gas deposits, could contaminate surrounding water supplies and wildlife.” The new regulations will give government inspectors access to the concrete linings in fracking wells, and require companies to disclose the chemicals they use on an industry website after operations are complete.
“Environmentalists take issue with the decision to rely on a site created by and for the fracking industry,” Davenport writes. “Oil and gas companies have resisted fracking regulations, fearing that they could raise the cost of fracking and slow or freeze energy development.”