The federal Department of Interior is again delaying and revising a draft proposal of rules governing hyro-fracking for gas and oil on public lands. Not only was this news released on a Friday, the traditional day to dump embarrassing, bad or simply bothersome news but this is particular announcement was released on the Friday before the start of Obama’s second Inauguration and Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday. Truly a deep fracking news dump weekend if ever there was one.
Outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar had claimed last May that these rules would be in place by the end of 2012. However that deadline has come and gone, and Friday afternoon an Interior Department spokesman appeared to start all over when he said the Bureau of Land Management
is making improvements to the draft proposal in order to maximize flexibility, facilitate coordination with state practices and ensure that operators on public lands implement best practices.
The Interior Department will “float” the never-issued draft recommendation from last May and begin taking new comments, once again soliciting comments from stakeholders and the public.
The three main components of the much delayed draft rules include requirements for: a) disclosure of the fracking chemicals used on public land (90% of the wells drilled on federal and Indian lands employ hydro fracking); b) verification that the fracking wells are not leaking fluids; and c) confirmation that drillers had (and would implement) a management plan for handling fracking fluids that often flow and ooze back to the surface.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) and drilling industry groups praised the rule delay. They welcomed extending opportunities for more stakeholder comment. The industry maintains existing oversight at the state level is adequate for safe fracking and claim that these suggested regulations would impose a grievous monetary burden.
In other news as the week ended, there were reports that Exxon Mobil, which in the past election was a heavy duty Romney supporter, had reached into their well and dug-up $250,000 to donate the Obama Inauguration Committee.