Last week, the Obama Administration announced new federal regulations aimed at improving safety procedures in the hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) process. Fracking is not a new process, but it has seen an enormous boom over the last seven years as new technology has been developed that makes the process more efficient and cost effective. Several parts of the country such as Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania have experienced economic booms as a result of fracking.
However, until recently, the process has gone widely unregulated. Federal regulations that were on the books were more than 30 years old and most were outdated and unfit for current fracking technology. The new regulations are aimed at updating the old rules and ensuring that the fracking process is better regulated by the federal government and made safer for the environment and oil field workers.
Overview of the New Fracking Regulations
The new regulations will go into effect in 90 days. The highlights of the rules include:
- Requiring companies to disclose which chemicals are being injected into water wells as a part of the process
- Allowing federal regulators to inspect all well sites to ensure the environmental safety and the integrity of the well
- Setting new standards for storing chemicals near well sites
- Requiring drilling companies to submit additional information about the geology of the well site to the Interior Department
Proponents & Opponents of the New Regulations
Proponents of the regulations believe the new rules will help ensure the environment around fracking wells will be kept clean. Many people had concerns about the chemicals that are used in the process seeping into the surrounding land and water and contaminating local water supplies. Several local municipalities around the country have begun passing laws that restrict hydraulic fracturing in their community. In November, the City of Denton passed the first fracking ban in the state of Texas.
Opponents say the new rules will be expensive to implement and will hinder an industry that has helped the U.S. economy grow and become less dependent on foreign oil and natural gas. Most lawmakers believe these new regulations are just the first of many that will be implemented to better regulate safety within the fracking industry.