The long-awaited effort to increase regulations on fracking is on its way. The Bureau of Land Management’s proposed fracking rules have been sent to the White House for review, the last step before they are published. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Fuel Fix website:
Written by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, the rule is focused on boosting the integrity of wells to ensure fluids are contained within them, ensuring recovered fluids are safely stored and forcing disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on public lands.
The details are very much under wraps so it is hard to say whether the final rule will be more or less stringent than the proposed rule BLM put out in 2013.
Sending the proposal to the White House right now smells very much like a political move. It makes it very unlikely the rule will come out before the election, meaning democrats from oil and gas states don’t have to face the controversy before voters go to the polls. It does make it likely that the rule comes out after the election and before the new Congress is sworn in in 2015.
One of the primary questions will be how much authority the U.S. government gives to states and local communities to restrict fracking. Illinois is working on fracking regulations. Colorado is set to vote on an initiative to allow local voters to restrict fracking in their towns. Denton, Texas, is looking at voting to ban frackingn within city limits. The original BLM proposal would have allowed the agency “to waive requirements in certain states or tribal regions if their own mandates meet or exceed the federal standards,” according to Fuel Fix.