December 1, 2010
On November 3, 2010, the day after the election, President Obama woke up to the stark reality that he would have to work with Republicans in Congress. During a press conference, the President identified natural gas as an issue where Republicans and Democrats could come together in a bipartisan way:
“Let’s find those areas where we can agree…We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country. Are we doing everything we can to develop those?”
But if the President is sincere in his offer to work with Republicans to increase development of our nation’s vast natural gas resources, then why is his Cabinet announcing potential new regulations to keep it under lock and key?
Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that he was considering a new proposal to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands – a technique responsible for tremendous growth in natural gas production. As reported by the Associated Press:
“The Obama administration may require companies drilling for natural gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals being used in a technique called hydraulic fracturing.”
Hydraulic fracturing is a long-standing practice that has been effectively regulated by the states for over 60 years. This proposed new requirement would be taken unilaterally by the Administration and would demand companies provide something they often don’t own the rights to hand over to the government*, rendering them out of compliance with Interior Department regulations, thereby blocking their ability to procure drilling permits or worse forcing them to rely on less than best available technology. The effect would be to drive energy production out of America’s lands and threaten the jobs of thousands of Americans.
This Interior Department proposal, along with Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation into the chemicals used, are far from a bipartisan olive branch on natural gas and pose a serious threat to American jobs and American-made energy.
*Drilling companies do not have the authority to disclose hydraulic fracturing fluid because it is often proprietary property of a subcontractor. Those subcontractors often work closely with state regulators to ensure that the information is disclosed in a manner to protect both public safety and the critical proprietary rights of the contractors.
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