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National Standards for Fracking on Public Lands?

May 10, 2013

DENVER – The controversial process known as fracking could soon be getting some federal government oversight.

On Thursday, Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis of Colorado were among the legislators introducing the FRAC Act.

The bill would require the oil and gas industry to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing and to comply with the Clean Water Act in any development.

Brad Powell, senior policy director of the Sportsmen Conservation Project for Trout Unlimited, says the proposal is a step in the right direction, especially for federal lands.

"We just think it's just common sense to take care of the water,” he says, “to ensure that chemicals used on public lands are known by people that live in the communities."

Powell is heading to Washington next week to talk with representatives from the Interior Department about standards for fracking on public lands. The department is expected to release an updated set of fracking rules sometime this month.

Meanwhile, industry groups say fracking regulations should be enforced at the state level only.

The Western Energy Alliance – an oil and gas industry advocacy group – says states are better suited to understand the unique conditions within their borders.

But Powell says there should be a minimum baseline standard.

"The states have a wide range of interpretations of how the hydraulic fracturing should be managed,” he says. “And those regulations are continuing to be updated and changed."

Those state regulations can be contentious. This week a bill that would have upped fines on developers that release toxic chemicals in fracking died in the Colorado legislature.

Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to review its enforcement and penalty program for frackers.


Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO