API's Gerard asks where need is for federal fracing regulations

The US Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management improved their proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations before issuing them on May 4, American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard acknowledged. But the fundamental question of whether they’re actually necessary remains unanswered, he said on May 9.

“Let’s be thoughtful about this. Let’s be mindful of what’s already in place, and if it’s working, why try to duplicate it?” he told reporters during a teleconference. “Right now, energy states are taking action and making sure they have a robust regulatory regime that should be adequate to regulate industry without overlaid federal regulation.”

Many states already aggressively regulate fracing on federal, state, and private land, and others are improving their programs with help from the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission, the Groundwater Protection Council, and the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER), Gerard noted. More significantly, producing states process permit applications faster than the year BLM often takes without compromising environmental protection, he added.

“We look at models like North Dakota and see they’re protecting their people, they’re protecting their environment, and they can issue a permit in 14 days,” Gerard said. “The feds should look at that model, instead of trying to overlay an additional layer of regulation that potentially duplicates or conflicts with it.”

He would not speculate on whether the Obama administration has recently taken a more positive oil and gas stance because it’s an election year, but added, “We have noticed a marked change in our dialogue with the White House the last 3-4 months. It has become more open. We hope it is because they better understand the oil and gas industry, and understand how significant this opportunity is.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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