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President Obama forms working group to coordinate federal gas studies

President Barack Obama issued an executive order Friday to coordinate his administration's efforts to regulate domestic natural gas production.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: April 14, 2012

Obama maintains federal oversight is necessarily, especially on public and Indian trust lands, but he promised “sensible, cost-effective public health and environmental standards to implement federal law and augment state safeguards.”

The U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined how collaboration will work in a memorandum of understanding.

“Science, research and innovation continue to play a vital role in our efforts to further expand oil and gas production in the United States and make sure it's done safely and responsibly,” said Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes. “Improvements in technologies like hydraulic fracturing are responsible for greatly increasing our capacity to develop America's abundant unconventional resources in recent years.

“Through a close collaboration across the government that reduces redundancy and streamlines our research, we are positioning the Obama administration to best meet the critical need of increasing public understanding and public confidence of these critical technologies so that we can continue safe and responsible exploration and production for many decades to come.”

Administration officials met with representatives of the oil and gas industry, business and manufacturing groups to discuss Friday's executive order on natural gas development.

Devon Energy Corp. spokesman Chip Minty said the industry already is overburdened by too many federal agencies looking to add new regulations for its operations.

Minty said he hopes the president's working group will remove some of the uncertainty hanging over the industry with the potential for more regulation: “We're pleased that the president pointed out in his order that the states are the primary regulators.”