Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, has taken off in the United States in the past couple of years, as technological innovations have boosted the technique’s efficiency when it comes to harvesting natural gas and oil, according to the New York Times.
Fracking is conducted by pumping water and a blend of other chemicals into the ground, thus releasing reserves of natural energy that is kept beneath the Earth’s surface. This style of attaining energy has put the United States of America on pace to once again be the world’s largest producer of oil and natural energy. According to Bloomberg Business, nearly 90% of wells that can be found on federally owned lands use some type of fracking.
NBC News reports that the federal government’s newly imposed regulations address three controversial issues that accompany hydraulic fracturing: the construction of the wells that are to be fracked, the disposing of the liquids and chemicals used in the process, and the disclosure of the contents of fracking fluids.
Hydraulic fracturing is a highly controversial practice, as many environmentalists believe that it ushers in irreversible damage to host ecosystems.
Interior Secretary of the United States Sally Jewell told Bloomberg, “This rule will move our nation forward as we ensure responsible development while protecting public land resources. As we continue to offer millions of acres of America’s public lands—your lands—for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public has confidence that robust safety and environmental protections are in place.” To the New York Times, she remarked, “Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old, and they have simply not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations.”
Some, on the other hand, are not so enthused by the new policy, and hope to reveal its redundancy. Erik Milito, director of upstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute, told Bloomberg, “Despite the renaissance on state and private lands, energy production on federal lands has fallen, and this rule is just one more barrier to growth.”
Many believe that the rules are ultimately unnecessary, as state-owned lands are already regulated by their respective governments. Nonetheless, all of the fracking states are expected to adopt the same policies that the federal government has set forth, thus changing the landscape of the industry.
The regulations are scheduled to come into effect in 90 days.