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Governors, Attorneys General Seek Withdrawal of Fracking Rule

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Republican government officials again asked President Obama to withdraw rules proposed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that would regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal U.S. and Indian lands.

The proposed BLM rule ignores the "strong and efficient" track record of states to regulate oil and natural gas production, as well as the rule's "significant and destructive impacts" on U.S. states, and needs to be taken into serious consideration, said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who serves as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt, who serves as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, in a Dec. 17 statement.

Jindal and Pruitt said the proposed rule would only discourage exploration and production on federal and Indian lands, potentially costing the federal and state government - that share federal royalties -billions of dollars in revenue, as well as negatively impact employment for states with federal lands.

The proposal would add "significant and unnecessary costs" to the production of oil and natural gas without assuring additional environmental protection, as well as numerous expensive and time-delaying measures such as cement bond longs that do not guarantee additional safety or effectiveness. Additionally, the proposed rule would include complicated permitting requirements that delay federal permitting times.

In a July 10, 2012, letter, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, asked Obama to withdraw the rules. So far, the president has not responded to the letter.

In September, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance called on the BLM to suspend its proposed rule for hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands, calling the rule unnecessary and excessive.

BLM in May of this year released the draft rule requiring oil and gas companies to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on public and Indian lands and establishing rules on wellbore integrity and issues regarding flowback water.

"As we continue to offer millions of acres of America's public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place," said Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a May 4 statement. "The proposed rule will modernize our management of well stimulation activities – including hydraulic fracturing – to make sure that fracturing operations conducted on public and Indian lands follow common-sense industry best practices."

Oil and gas companies and other interested parties filed comments June 11 with the Office of Management and Budget focused on the information collection burdens, broad cost and delay impacts imposed by the rule and with respect to which the OMB had specific interest. The filings were conducted at the request of the BLM, a spokesperson with the Oklahoma state attorney general's office told Rigzone in an email statement. On June 26, the BLM extended the public comment period from July 10 to Sept. 10.

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior said it would delay finalizing hydraulic fracturing rules on public lands to allow for more time to address public comments on the proposed rule.

Finalization of the rule has now been pushed back to 2013, the spokesperson said.



Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com.

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