Sunday, March 22, 2015

Obama administration tightens federal rules on fracking

"The Obama administration imposed tougher restrictions Friday on oil and gas “fracking” operations on public lands, seeking to lower the risk of water contamination from a controversial practice that is chiefly behind the recent boom in U.S. energy production."

Joby Warrick reports in the Washington Post:
"The regulations represent the administration’s most significant effort to tighten standards for hydraulic fracturing, a technique that helped make the United States the world’s No. 1 producer of natural gas while igniting a fierce debate over environmental consequences.
"The Interior Department rules apply only to oil and gas drilling on federal lands, or about
a quarter of the country’s current fossil-fuel output. But the prospect of new regulations has drawn sharp opposition from industry groups who say the new requirements will drive up production costs everywhere."
The rules announced on Friday are intended chiefly to minimize the threat of water
contamination from fracking. Companies that drill on public lands would be
subject to stricter design standards for wells and also for holding tanks and
ponds where liquid wastes are stored.

Interior officials also introduced new transparency measures that require firms to publicly disclose the types of the chemical additives they use. The liquid injected into fracking wells consists mainly of water and sand, with small amounts of other substances that can range from coffee grinds to acids and salts.

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