Last week, MDN reported the comments made by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as he toured a drilling “man camp” in the Bakken Shale of North Dakota (see this MDN story). Salazar made the comment that his Interior department is working on new rules for hydraulic fracturing, which seems premature given that the Environmental Protection Agency, another federal agency, is working on a multi-year study of fracking. We now know that the rules Salazar was referring to are for fracking on federal lands that come under the jurisdiction of Bureau of Land Management, an Interior sub-agency. We also now have industry reaction to his statement.
Here is what Salazar said last week:
"Our hope is that by approaching hydraulic fracturing in a way that creates confidence among the American public, it won’t become the Achilles heel of the oil and gas industry," Salazar said. "We can do oil and gas development and, at the same time, make sure that we’re taking measures to protect our environment and assure the American public."
"What has made much of what we are seeing today possible has been the new technology around horizontal drilling as well as hydraulic fracturing," Salazar said. But, he said, that could be jeopardized "unless we are able to move forward with a program that assures the American public that it is being done safely and responsibly."*
And here is reaction from the American Petroleum Institute:
"The secretary’s Achilles’ heel analogy is a little dated at this point," said Dan Naatz, a vice president with the Independent Petroleum Association of America. "Industry has moved forward. The states are moving forward. Things have progressed, and in many ways, the secretary is trying to address a problem that doesn’t exist anymore."
Oil and gas industry representatives say a new drilling rule — even if it is just for wells on federal lands — will further discourage exploration in those areas.
"States are effectively requiring disclosure without discouraging investment," said Reid Porter, an American Petroleum Institute spokesman. "There is absolutely no need for the federal government to add bureaucratic layers where disclosure is already occurring."*
We don’t yet have a copy of the new regulations. When they are issued we’ll be sure to publish a copy so MDN readers can see how the all-caring and “just want to protect fracking” Ken Salazar will comfort Americans and resolve this latest crisis in public confidence.
Meanwhile, the price of crude oil and gasoline at the pump is setting new record highs. Ever hear the phrase “fiddling while Rome burns” Mr. Salazar?
*Bridgeport (CT) Connecticut Post (Apr 8, 2012) – Hydraulic fracturing rules bring controversy to lonesome prairie