Editorial: Federal government’s fracking rules usurp states’ rights

Our masters in Washington are always searching for solutions to problems. They invariably find a solution even if they can’t find a problem.

The Interior Department recently released a 400-page set of rules for fracking on public lands, which covers about 87 percent of Nevada.

Sally Jewell

“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 in a press release, completely ignoring the fact that hydraulic fracturing has been used in a majority of oil and natural gas wells since the 1940s. “This updated and strengthened rule provides a framework of safeguards and disclosure protocols that will allow for the continued responsible development of our federal oil and gas resources. As we continue to offer millions of acres of public lands for conventional and renewable energy production, it is absolutely critical the public have confidence that transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place.”

Also, she completely ignores the fact the states currently regulate fracking and there have been virtually no problems or water contamination associated with the process. Pay no heed to the fact the states maintain the power to regulate water within their boundaries or that the states maintain police powers over federal land within their boundaries.

Nope, they are from the federal government and they are coming to save the day with job killing, economy choking regulations such as:

• “Provisions for ensuring the protection of groundwater supplies by requiring a validation of well integrity and strong cement barriers between the wellbore and water zones through which the wellbore passes;
• “Increased transparency by requiring companies to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to the Bureau of Land Management through the website FracFocus, within 30 days of completing fracturing operations;
• “Higher standards for interim storage of recovered waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing to mitigate risks to air, water and wildlife …”

It took the U.S. government four years to come up with this 400-page usurpation of states’ rights.

Noble Energy drills in Elko County and fracked this well. (Noble Energy photo)

Less than a year ago, the Nevada Division of Minerals Administrator Rich Perry released Nevada’s 20-page revised rules that require groundwater testing before and after drilling, pressure testing of equipment, notifications to landowners before fracking begins and abiding by strict engineering standards — all of which cover the same ground as the federal rules, but took only a couple of months to draft and implement.

Redundancy from the bureaucracy.

The oil and gas industry immediately filed suit in Wyoming to block the federal rules, calling them “arbitrary and unnecessary burdens” for industry.

The Congressional Western Caucus criticized the new fracking rules, saying the process adds costly red tape and bureaucratic uncertainty to the oil and gas permitting process on federal lands.

“The Department of the Interior has yet to demonstrate why a federal hydraulic fracturing rule is even necessary in the first place with states already regulating the practice effectively within their borders,”said Caucus Chairman Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming. “This rule jeopardizes these efforts by forcing states to jump through bureaucratic hoops just to reclaim their authority to regulate drilling and wellhead activities that have been under their purview for decades. The federal government is the newcomer in this space, bringing nothing to the table except more red tape and more barriers to energy production on federal land that continues to lag far behind the energy boom on state and private lands. This rule disproportionately impacts the very western states whose energy reserves are a necessary ingredient to achieving lasting American energy security.”

Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, said, “The Obama administration’s hydraulic fracturing rule is a solution in search of a problem.”

The federal bureaucrats should be forced by Congress or the courts to back off and let the states handle this.

Nevada Division of Minerals administrator Rich Perry talks about fracking rules established by the state. (Elko Daily Free Press photo)

A version of this editorial appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record.


28 comments on “Editorial: Federal government’s fracking rules usurp states’ rights

  1. Marti Rundus says:

    Sally looks like a man in drag.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    I wasn’t going to say anything about Sally Jewell’s looks but as long as someone else did, I will ask if that’s the look Bruce Jenner is trying for? Perhaps not, he wouldn’t be news if it wasn’t connected to the Kardashian craziness.

  3. nyp says:

    Vern, it is good to know that in addition to being a racist who describes President Obama as a “common street thug,” you are also a misogynist.

  4. Steve says:


    Homophobic, maybe…but not misogynist.

  5. nyp says:

    By the way – I know that people like Vern Clayson are more interested in making remarks about the appearance of older women, but with respect to the subject at hand, I am sure glad that Mr. Mitchell doesn’t live in a place subject to all of those Oklahoma-type frackquakes:


  6. It is not due to fracking. It might be due to disposal of the waste liquid underground, some theorize. But the enviros would go nuts if the industry tried use evaporation ponds. Can’t win.

  7. nyp says:

    It’s all the environmentalists’ fault that the fracking activities are causing all those earthquakes.

    That, and excessive regulation.

  8. nyp says:

    The best thing would be to leave all those earthquakes, all that toxic wastewater to the magic of the market.

  9. Maybe California could use some the water to irrigate crops.

  10. nyp says:

    Here is what fracking wastewater “ponds” in Utah look like from the air:


    Can’t see why anyone would have any concerns.

  11. nyp says:

    BTW, this week’s New Yorker magazine contains a fascinating article about what it is like to like in frackquake zones in Oklahoma.

    Must be all that socialism.

  12. Steve says:

    ydraulic fracturing goes on between 6000 and 12000 feet, depending on the basin. The epicenters are 3 miles or more below the surface….

    yeah, fracking caused’m.

  13. Steve says:

    ” Injection wells are also used outside of the energy industry; the Bureau of Reclamation injects saltwater into the ground in part of Western Colorado, which has also led to earthquakes in the past.”


  14. Steve says:

    “Human-caused Quakes Not Unique To The Age Of Fracking

    Some of the earliest understanding that humans could cause earthquakes came from Colorado. In the 1960s, an injection of wastewater in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal led to the most damaging earthquake in Colorado’s history, a magnitude 4.8 that caused over a million dollars in damages.”


  15. “Beginning in 1987, the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) and City of North Las Vegas, as SNWA member agencies, began pumping treated water from Lake Mead into the valley’s primary groundwater aquifer.

    “In the years since the program began, LVVWD and the City of North Las Vegas collectively have stored more than 320,000 acre-feet of water for the community’s use in times of need. That equates to roughly 104 billion gallons of water.

    “Currently, LVVWD has approximately 70 recharge/recovery wells – predominantly in the northwest part of the valley – with a total injection capacity of about 100 million gallons per day. It is the largest recharge program of its kind in the world.”

    No quakes.

    Of course, they aren’t injecting the water into fault zones, which is the problem with disposal.

    Quakes also resulted when they tried to pump water into deep wells to create geothermal energy.

  16. nyp says:

    no reason to doubt any of that.

  17. Steve says:

    Fracking is not the source of the type of quakes the anti-fracking crowd would like it to be.

  18. nyp says:

    It is in places like Oklahoma. Read the linked articles.

  19. Steve says:

    No it isn’t. Injection of the waste water is the cause…in places like OK and elsewhere.
    From your link:
    “Many scientists disagree.They say those quakes, and thousands of others before and since, are mainly the work of humans, caused by wells used to bury vast amounts of wastewater from oil and gas exploration deep in the earth near fault zones. ”

    That whole article details wastewater injection into areas with fault lines as THE cause. Not fracking. Injection into improper locations. KUNC detailed that there are locations where injection causes no troubles and other areas where trouble is a direct result of injection. But Fracking is not the cause in any of the incidents.

    The weather underground article parrots the KUNC.ORG stories I found. In both cases the cause is injection. NOT FRACKING.

  20. nyp says:

    Oy vey. The injection of massive quantities of waste water is a byproduct of fracking.

    Hey — I have no particular objection to fracking. I’m happy it is reducing oil prices/ And it can likely be conducted relatively safely. But it needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, you end up like Oklahoma.

  21. Steve says:

    Like the bore hole wall problems (since fixed), waste water needs to be properly disposed of and it will need to be into places where fault lines do not exist. (if current information is correct)

    Think of it this way…back in the 50’s toxic waste was dumped with little or no oversight at all. It wasn’t until the 1970’s it began to get cleaned up and some of those sights remain today.
    Under current EXISTING oversight it has taken far less than a decade to identify, fix and properly police these very same aspects of this new process for extracting fuels.
    Be happy, those of us in the 60’s and 70’s made the right moves and those very laws were what fixed the bore hole wall problems and will fix this one as well.
    No need for more laws, the ones we put in place back then are working nicely. You have us old liberals (today’s conservatives) to thank for it!

    Also…water well fracking has been conducted since the 1940’s. This is for drinking water. If fracking was the cause of those quakes, it would have been identified far long ago as the cause.

  22. nyp says:

    If current regulations were adequate Oklahoma would not be experiencing an average of two earthquakes per day of magnitude 3.0 or greater.

  23. Steve says:

    No, Nyp. Since current oversight is fully adequate OK is the first and only place that will have to experience that degree of trouble from this problem.

    Turns out the fault lines running through that state were previously unknown and unmapped. This will actually be a good thing in the long run…not just for OK but for the whole “fracking” hemisphere!

  24. nyp says:

    “Scientists Link Pennsylvania’s Fracking Boom To Increased Radioactive Gas In Homes”

    “The amount of radioactive material in Pennsylvania homes has increased alongside the state’s fracking boom, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
    Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health asserted that levels of radon — a odorless, carcinogenic, radioactive gas — have been on the rise in Pennsylvania homes since 2004, around the same time the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began rapidly increasing the number of permits it issued for unconventional gas drilling. There had been no similar increases in indoor radon concentrations prior to 2004, the study said.
    Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the world after smoking, according to the the Environmental Protection Agency. ”
    Damn Washington bureaucrats.

  25. Steve says:

    “The researchers were careful to note that the side-by-side increases in radon and fracking only represented a correlation, and should not be taken as a declaration that fracking directly caused an increased radon presence in homes.”

    “We’re not convinced this industry is playing a role [in increased radon levels],” he said, noting Pennsylvania has had a radon problem long before fracking started. “All we’re saying is these findings provide no reassurance that the industry is not playing a role.”

    However, the researchers did note that their study had limitations. For one, they had “no information on radon-resistant construction, construction year, types of remediation completed, type of heating and cooking systems, quantity of natural gas and water used in the building, degree of sealing of the building for energy efficiency, soil type near the building, [or] wind speed and direction.” They also noted that it’s possible the increases could because normal levels of radon in the atmosphere are being more effectively trapped in buildings because of better wall sealing.

    DAMN! that article is CHOCK FULL’O DISCLAIMERS!

    Nyp being one sided again.

  26. nyp says:

    Probably all just a huge coincidence

    Having lung cancer, though, is a terrible way to die.

  27. Steve says:

    So stop smoking……

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