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.
“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.
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.
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.