After a three-year debate, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released stronger fracking regulation and compliance. The rules issued by BLM aim to reduce an increase in cities and states seeking to outright ban fracking.
“Unfortunately, many of the regulations on the books at the Interior Department have not kept pace with advances in technology and modern drilling methods,” said Sally Jewell, interior secretary. “We need to put in place standards that encourage innovation, that help define the rules of the road for the industry, and that help protect communities. We need to modernize our regulations to make sure they can keep up with evolving technologies.”
The new fracking regulations would apply only on federal and Indian lands. Beginning in June, the regulations will require oil and gas companies to:
- Publicly disclose chemicals used in the fracking process to the BLM, through the website FracFocus, within 30 days of completing operations.
- Install strong cement barriers between the well and any water zones it passes through.
- Enforce stricter chemical storage protocols for waste water used in fracking.
- Lower the risk of cross-contamination by submitting detailed information on well geology, depth and locations to the BLM.
The newly issued regulations on fracking have been met with criticism from the industry and environmentalists. The industry has fired back at the BLM stating the new federal regulations will not only duplicate efforts of the 24 states that already have municipal or county-wide bans in place, but it will also increase cost and hinder the drilling boom.
However, environmentalists fear the regulations are too lenient and want to see a complete ban on fracking. Ironically, with both sides dissatisfied over the new regulations, it does not appear the ongoing battle over fracking will come to a quick conclusion.