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Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

Isn't the Obama administration issuing new rules on fracking?

 

The new rules *only* apply to fracking on federal land, which is only a tiny slice of fracking nationwide. These rules are inadequate to protect federal lands and are currently being weakened by tremendous industry pressure. As stated above, there are no regulations which can make fracking safe, either on federal or private lands.

The Department of Interior announced proposed new rules to regulate fracking on federal lands. However, the vast majority of fracking in the United States takes place on private lands. Regulation of fracking thus almost completely falls to the states. But state regulations have hardly been able to keep up with the recent explosion of fracking activity, and the laws and rules on the books vary widely in stringency and enforcement. Studies have also documented how industry "captures" local governments.

There is also a considerable lack of transparency among companies involved in fracking, which is aided and abetted by state and federal regulators. For instance, while states like Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania require "disclosure" of the chemicals used in a fracking operation, the requirement is gutted by "trade secret" exemptions, which shield companies from disclosing their toxic recipes. The federal government also memorializes the trade secret exemption in its new proposed rules, which, again, are only applicable to federal lands. The federal rules include another major giveaway to industry, in that they would only require disclosure of the "disclosable" chemicals (i.e., those not falling under the trade secret exemption) *after* the fracking operation is completed. That leaves concerned citizens and watchdog groups powerless to monitor possible contamination of drinking water supplies in real time.

 

Next Question: What about the University of Texas study that finds no connection between fracking and water contamination?

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