Congressional subcommittee urged not to duplicate state frac regulations

Witnesses testifying before a congressional subcommittee field hearing in Denver on May 2 said US Department of the Interior efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public land will duplicate measures already implemented by some states.

Kathleen Sgamma, Western Energy Alliance vice-president of government and public affairs, said WEA supports efforts to delegate more responsibilities to the states. She testified before the US House Natural Resources Committee Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee.

“Despite the fact that states have been regulating hydraulic fracturing for over 6 decades with no cases of contamination of underground sources of drinking water, the federal government feels the need to step in with redundant regulations,” Sgamma said.

“DOI can point to no incidents on public lands that would compel it to add duplicative regulations. Even the Environmental Protection Agency is waiting to determine if federal regulations are necessary for hydraulic fracturing until it completes a scientific study, due for completion in 2014,” she added.

She noted that EPA delegates major Clean Air Act responsibilities to the states and suggested that DOI could delegate oil and natural gas permitting. Current state and federal permitting functions have many areas of overlap, Sgamma said.

WEA represents 400 companies involved in oil and gas exploration and production. Members are small businesses and independent producers that operate on public lands.

In other testimony, a spokesman for Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) said shale development has helped construction companies and suppliers struggling to recover from a poor economy.

Mike Quirk, AED vice-chairman and vice-president of product support at Wagner Equipment Co. in Aurora, Colo., warned lawmakers against interfering with what he called booming shale development.

“In order for the economy to reap the full reward from shale energy, the federal government must refrain from micromanaging the industry and defer to state regulators,” he said.

AED, an international trade association representing construction equipment companies, is based in Washington, DC.

“Shale energy development has allowed Wagner Equipment Co. to begin to recover from the recession and start to grow once again,” Quirk said. “While the equipment markets on which we previously depended have still not recovered, demand from nontraditional markets, such as hydraulic fracturing, have helped us get our company back on solid footing.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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