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Witnesses to House Committee: Federal Government Must Stay Out of Hydro-Fracking Regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2013 - Today, the House Natural Resources Committee held an oversight hearing entitled “DOI Fracturing Rule: A Recipe for Government Waste, Duplication, and Delay.” This hearing focused on the potential impact that the Obama Administration’s proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations on federal lands would have on job creation, economic growth, and energy development in America.

For over 60 years, states have successfully and effectively regulated the process of hydraulic fracturing.  This process is essential to developing shale oil and natural gas. With state regulation of hydraulic fracturing, President Obama’s former EPA Chief Lisa Jackson admitted that there has not been one instance of groundwater contamination from this process.

For over two years, the House Natural Resources Committee has conducted aggressive oversight of this issue and will continue its oversight of the federal government’s overreach in issuing duplicative regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. This is especially important now because Interior Secretary Jewell has stated that the Interior Department would be releasing its new proposed rule of hydraulic fracturing “within weeks.”

“States are able to carefully craft regulations to meet the unique geologic and hydrologic needs of their states. The regulatory needs in North Dakota, versus Ohio and New Mexico, are vastly different.  Imposing a ‘one size fits all’ regulatory structure, as the Obama Administration is attempting to do, will not work.  At a time when the Department is canceling lease sales, federal dollars and resources should not be spent duplicating state regulations, especially when states already have guidelines in place that are effective and successful,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).  

Witnesses testifying before the Committee spoke from their firsthand experience with state regulation of hydraulic fracturing, how states are already effectively and safely regulating this process, and how federal regulations would be duplicative and burdensome: 

“States have successfully regulated more than 1.2 million hydraulic fracturing (HF) operations spanning sixty years; new federal mandates are not necessary given their exemplary safety record. State rules specifically tailored to each state’s unique geologic and hydrologic conditions better protect the environment and groundwater than a one-size-fits-all federal rule.” - Alan Olson, Montana State Senator

“The proposed BLM hydraulic fracturing rule would add a requirement for pre-approval of fracturing processes and chemicals. North Dakota has worked hard to create a stable tax and regulatory environment that promotes venture capital investment.  Our oil and gas rules are reviewed at least every two years through a public comment process where every comment must be considered in writing. This ensures that North Dakota regulations keep up with new technologies and economic conditions.”

Lynn D. Helms, Director,  North Dakota Industrial Commission, Department of Mineral Resources


“The Wyoming County Commissioners Association (WCCA) has asked the BLM to defer regulation of hydraulic fracturing to states that have adequate hydraulic fracturing regulations in place, which certainly is Wyoming.  Proactive state regulations have the highest likelihood for successful protection of water resources because they are best able to respond to localized impacts and issues, as opposed to a redundant federal hydraulic fracturing rule.” - Cindy DeLancey, Executive Director, Wyoming County Commissioners Association

“Presently, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is planning to add regulations for hydraulic fracturing (HF) on federal lands which are redundant to state regulations, and will add even more length and bureaucracy onto a process which already takes significantly more time than on private and state lands. The added red tape will divert investment away from energy development, job creation, and economic growth into redundant federal regulation, further disadvantaging western public lands states like New Mexico. While states efficiently process permits in an average of thirty days, the Federal Government takes 228 days. The proposed HF rule could add another 100 days onto permitting times.” - John A. Byrom, President and CEO, DJ Simmons, Inc.

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