Politics in shale gas drilling is an unfortunate fact because the environment has been politicized. But that’s the reality. Anyone who thinks the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a political animal has their head in the sand. From its beginning, MDN has pointed out that the EPA is making a power grab—attempting to regulate oil and gas drilling via the back door by using legislation like the Clean Water Act.
Some on Capitol Hill, like Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, agree. Rep. Latta posted an editorial on the Politico website last night that says, in part:
Too often, Washington ignores the complexities inherent in our vast and diverse nation and reverts to a one-size-fits-all approach in which Washington “knows” best.
Most federal agencies operate under this assumption. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a perfect example. It sets uniform standards for the effects of energy production on air and water, regardless of the characteristics of different localities. The obvious problem with this is that many of these municipalities are as dissimilar as my hometown, Bowling Green, Ohio, and San Francisco, entirely different geographically and demographically.
EPA’s impulse to regulate first and ask questions later is contrary to the wishes of many states, which have spent years crafting stringent, well-tailored regulatory frameworks at the state level and desire little intrusion from Washington.
In the past decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — techniques used to extract shale gas from tight pockets deep underground — has allowed access to large volumes of natural gas that were not accessible just a few years ago.
The production boom of natural gas from shale formations has sparked a vigorous debate about how much regulation is necessary and who should oversee it — Washington bureaucrats or state regulators who reside in the communities they regulate and have detailed knowledge of local geologic formations?
State regulators know their natural resources. They know the local geology, geography and production characteristics, making them better suited to regulate local energy producers than distant federal bureaucrats.
The fundamental question that must be asked is: Who is best suited to protect the health and safety of Ohioans — experienced Ohio regulators and geologists, or somebody in Washington?
Today, I’ll ask this question at a natural gas forum in Washington at which we will hear from esteemed energy experts and industry leaders who can help us better understand the natural gas revolution that’s changing our energy landscape for the better.
At a similar forum that I co-hosted in Ohio, I posed this question to state regulators, shale oil and gas development companies and end-users.
The answer was loud and clear: Ohio has it under control, no need for Big Government to step in.*
*Politico (Nov 13, 2011) – Let states regulate energy development