House Panel Approves Bill to Limit Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

on August 12, 2013 at 2:00 PM

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The House Natural Resources Committee has advanced a bill aimed to protect states’ rights in regulating hydraulic fracturing and prevent duplicative federal regulations.

On July 31, 2013, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (H.R. 2728) aimed to prevent duplicative hydraulic fracturing regulations on federal lands within state boundaries.  The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), passed the house by a vote of 23-15.

The legislation would require the Department of Interior (DOI) to recognize state primacy in regulating hydraulic fracturing and defer to existing state regulations related to permitting and guidance of the practice.  To this end, it would effectively block DOI from imposing regulations in states that have appropriate regulations in place.  Rep. Flores expounded that geological differences render a state-driven approach more logical, as states are primed to devise regulations consistent with geologies within their boundaries.  Despite the sound regulatory framework in several states, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian lands.


BLM Lands and Jurisdictions

In May 2013, BLM issued a revised version of its original 2012 issued draft rule.  The rule would require drillers to publicly disclose fracturing chemicals, address well-bore integrity, and properly manage flowback water.  The revisions aim to complement state regulatory efforts and include provisions allowing BLM to defer to states or tribal regions with equivalent or more stringent regulations.  However, industry has drawn attention to additional layers of bureaucracy that would increase costs and prolong permitting processes.

While the legislation intends to protect states’ rights and eliminate duplicative regulations that could inhibit hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, it does not prevent implementation of federal baseline standards in states that lack regulations.

August 1, 2013 via Energy Solutions Forum

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