Power play: Fracturing plan wrong, indefensible

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: June 15, 2009 at 4:10 am •  Published: June 15, 2009
Uncle Sam has grabbed control of much of the auto industry and financial sector. Why not oil and gas regulation as well?

Dramatic increases in federal control of the private sector and in regulation are becoming hallmarks of the Obama era. The latest power grab is an attempt to switch regulation of hydraulic fracturing from the states to the Environmental Protection Agency.

This is what we in the opinion trade call a "DBI” issue — dull but important. Fracturing isn’t a topic at the top of the minds of most folks, but it resides there for energy professionals, regulators and trade groups.

Fracturing involves the injection of chemicals and water into wells to increase production. Some believe the technique poses harm to drinking water supplies. U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, disagrees and says the regulatory shift would be "disastrous for the industry.”

The Oklahoma City-based Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission says states "do a superb job” of protecting the environment from threats posed by oil and gas exploration and production. It says the shift to the EPA is unnecessary and threatens energy production.

Fracturing has been around for 50 years. Boren said the evidence from using the technique thousands of times for half a century doesn’t indicate a problem with drinking water contamination. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to require companies to disclose the chemicals used in the process and allow the EPA to ensure compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

This is a solution in search of a problem.


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