President Barack Obama's administration is extending the public
comment period on its proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing on
public land by 60 days.
Citizens will have an additional two months to comment on the
fracking rules, which were unveiled in May. Although the rules only
apply to federal land - where Baird
Research estimates about 25 percent of fracked wells are located -
many view them as potential guidelines for more all-encompassing
regulations in the future.
The Wall Street Journal
, a copy of the draft rules included provisions that would have
tweaked guidelines for well construction and wastewater disposal.
Water disposal is a major concern for the industry as fracking
involves millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand
pumped underground to fracture shale rock, releasing
. When this water returns to the surface, it obviously needs to be
The rules also would require operators to disclose what chemicals
they use in their fracking solution but only after they have
them in the earth. This has drawn the ire of some environmental
leaning groups, such as the The Natural Resources Defense Council.
The public will now have some extra time to voice their support for
or complaints about the proposed regulations.
"To ensure that the public and key stakeholders, including industry
and public health groups, are able to provide important feedback
that will help inform any final rule, Interior has decided to
extend the public comment period for our commonsense draft rule,"
the Interior Department said in a statement.
An official with the department told
that even with the extension of the comment period - which will now
stretch into July - the rules are expected to be finalized later
Fracking has become something of a polarizing issue over the past
decade. Proponents of the
extraction technique point to the fact that it has allowed the U.S.
to become the world's largest producer of the hydrocarbon, despite
only have the fifth highest reserves of the resource. Further, they
say that increased natural gas production will lessen the nation's
dependence on foreign energy sources, most notably
from the Middle East.
Opponents of fracking claim that it can cause groundwater to be
contaminated and that it can cause earthquakes. The second of these
claims was recently backed up by a report from the National
Research Council, which linked fracking with very minor earthquakes
in Oklahoma and England.