Energy policy — oil and gas: BLM To Hold Regional Forums on Hydraulic Fracturing in Natural Gas Production

April 3, 2011

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Here’s the release from the Bureau of Land Management (Matt Spangler):

Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey today announced that the BLM will hold a series of regional public forums in late April to further discuss the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques to stimulate natural gas production on Federal lands. The sessions will be held in Bismarck, North Dakota; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Denver, Colorado. These locations will help to highlight increased regional interest in natural gas development on Federal lands and other areas where the BLM has responsibility for mineral leasing.

“These forums will help inform BLM as we work closely with industry, the states, other Federal agencies and the public to develop a way forward on natural gas so that the United States can safely and fully realize the benefits of this important energy resource,” Director Abbey said. “The Interior Department has a responsibility to study the potential impacts and to identify commonsense, best management practices that should be used in fracturing operations on public lands to ensure that this development is carried out in the right way and in the right places.”

The regional forums will build upon a forum the Department of the Interior hosted in November 2010 in Washington, D.C. on best practices for hydraulic fracturing and will provide a more in-depth, technical review of natural gas development practices on public lands. The meetings are part of the Department’s proactive efforts to ensure that oil and gas development is taking place on public lands in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.

Topics to be discussed will include best management practices, disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, well construction and integrity, production wastewater management and other techniques for protecting drinking water resources. Panelists will include experts from Federal and state governments, industry, and environmental organizations that have been engaged in natural gas development issues.

Safely harnessing the nation’s abundant natural gas resources is a vital component of America’s energy portfolio and has the potential to power the U.S. economy for decades to come and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Natural gas development on Federal lands has more than doubled over the last 20 years, from 1.2 trillion cubic feet in Fiscal Year 1991 to nearly 3.0 trillion cubic feet in Fiscal Year 2010. In Fiscal Year 2010, about 14 percent of domestically produced natural gas came from onshore public lands.

The BLM issues leases for natural gas development on lands managed by the BLM as well as lands managed by other Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service. The BLM also manages the subsurface mineral estate in a number of areas where the surface is privately owned. The use of hydraulic fracturing in these areas has similarly increased in recent years.

Meanwhile, Governor Hicklooper backs hydraulic fracturing according to TheDenverChannel.com. From the article:

Gov. John Hickenlooper is backing hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas drilling. But he said companies should disclose what chemicals they use in their fracturing fluids. Hickenlooper made the comments Thursday during a visit to Glenwood Springs.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.


Energy policy — oil and gas: The FRAC act is back — S. 587 (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act)

March 26, 2011

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis, both Colorado Democrats, have once again introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (FRAC Act) to regain federal regulatory authority over the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

DeGette and Polis unsuccessfully ran the legislation last session, seeking to close the so-called “Halliburton Loophole” named for the oil and gas services company previously headed up by former Vice President Dick Cheney. It was during the Bush-Cheney administration in 2005 that Congress granted hydraulic fracturing an exemption from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Here’s the GovTrack page for the bill.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.


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