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U.S. Department of the Interior proposes new fracking rule

The department has proposed a new rule for hydraulic fracturing operations on federal lands.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: May 5, 2012
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The U.S. Department of the Interior on Friday released proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands.

“As we continue to offer millions of acres of America's public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “The proposed rule will modernize our management of well stimulation activities — including hydraulic fracturing — to make sure that fracturing operations conducted on public and Indian lands follow common-sense industry best practices.”

The rule would apply to more than 750 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Indian tribes, including all of Osage County in Oklahoma.

Industry and environmental groups had a mixed reaction to the latest federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association President Mike Terry said the new rule is unneeded and unnecessary.

He maintains the oil and natural gas industry should remain under the jurisdiction of state regulators.

Bill Whitsitt, executive vice president of public affairs for Devon Energy Corp., said he was disappointed with the rule because it will exacerbate the delays facing producers on federal lands.

He said Interior Department officials should have partnerships with state regulators to enforce local regulations on federal lands, as in parts of Wyoming where Devon has active operations.

Whitsitt said Devon has been supportive of the push for disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, but he questioned another federal requirement.

He said there is no need for companies to compile cement bond logs measuring the pressure integrity of wells. The industry currently relies on simpler tests to guarantee the integrity of wells.

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As we continue to offer millions of acres of America's public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place.”

Ken Salazar

Interior Secretary

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