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New Fracking Rules Come Up Short Leaving Communities, Earth Unprotected

'Seriously inadequate' proposal disappoints

- Common Dreams staff

Today, the Obama administration proposed new rules on the fracking industry's procedures and oversight on public lands. Outdated fracking regulations have been replaced with out of touch fracking regulations, falling short of protecting communities from toxic pollution, according to environmental groups.

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012. REUTERS/Les Stone The new proposal would require that companies get approval before fracking, and would require companies to reveal chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing; however, the companies will only be required to reveal their chemicals after they complete the process.

Also, the rules only apply to public lands and would not affect drilling on private land, where the bulk of fracking occurs.

Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a vocal proponent of expanding fracking regulation, called the measure "seriously inadequate," according to Reuters.

Jessica Ennis from Earthjustice stated, "In light of the near-constant reports of fracking-related air and water pollution, an update to federal rules is long overdue. Unfortunately, these proposed rules from the Department of the Interior fall far short of what’s needed to protect public health."

“The President promised in his State of the Union that this country’s gas drilling boom would not come at the expense of public health. This proposed rule fails to meet that promise.”

Earthjustice: Interior Department Proposes Updated Fracking Rules, Comes Up Short

The U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled a set of rules governing hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” on public lands today. The controversial oil and gas development technique—in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force gas from underground deposits—has been linked to air and water pollution and public health problems.

The proposed rule does not require fracking companies to disclose chemicals before they are pumped into the ground—a critical measure that would give nearby communities time to test and monitor water supplies for any fracking-related water pollution. [...]

“The oil and gas industry has gotten used to operating in the shadows for too long—hiding chemical information, fighting against right-to-know laws, silencing families who speak out. It’s unacceptable and needs to end now."

Natural Resources Defense Council: BLM Proposal to Reduce Risks to Ground Water from Oil and Gas Fracking

“We need BLM to be a leader when it comes protecting our lands, water and ultimately our health from fracking pollution, yet several states already have stronger protections in place than what the agency proposed today. This is a critical first step, but so much more needs to be done.

“Oil and gas operations are expanding rapidly with new technologies and into new areas, including closer and closer to where families live and children go to school, but federal safeguards have not caught up. And industry does not inspire confidence when it balks at the notion of sharing chemical ingredients upfront. Communities shouldn’t have to wait for that information until after the deed is done.”

“We hope the agency will strengthen this proposal before it becomes final.”

Reuters: US proposes new rules for fracking on federal lands

Environmentalists and some lawmakers said the rules didn't go far enough.

Interior's proposal on disclosure differs from a draft of the rules that leaked to the media earlier this year, by mandating disclosure after fracking is completed.

"Requiring the information before the fracking occurred would have caused in our view delays that were not necessary," Salazar said on a conference call.

Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a vocal proponent of expanding fracking regulation, called the measure "seriously inadequate."

"We're all seeking common-sense solutions to ensure the safety of natural gas production, but with all due respect, requiring disclosure after fracking has already occurred seems less common-sense and more 'closing the door after the horse has left the barn,'" DeGette said in statement.

Some environmentalists said communities need to know what chemicals may be pumped into the ground before drilling happens, so water supplies can be monitored in real time, however.

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