WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Friday is due to unveil rules for oil companies that frack on federal land, included beefed-up safety measures, but won’t likely require strict oversight as environmental groups want, according to sources.
The standards have been in the works for more than three years and gone through several drafts with environmentalists and the energy industry fighting over its scope.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial process that involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into a well to extract oil or gas. Environmentalists say fracking poses health risks.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said on Tuesday the long-awaited rules will be unveiled by the Bureau of Land Management “in the next few days” and address comments submitted when a draft of the rule was first proposed in 2012. An announcement was expected at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT).
The rule is expected to require energy companies to reinforce boreholes and otherwise prevent leakage and provide data on the cocktail of chemicals that helps extract crude oil out of the ground. The rules will add transparency to the practice, long shrouded by companies, which are reluctant to reveal “trade secrets,” environmentalists say.
But the proposal is expected to be limited in scope, according to sources, applying to federal onshore leases, roughly 23 percent of total U.S. production, according to recent figures from the Energy Information Administration.
The plan addresses three issues: disclosure of the contents of fracking fluids, rules on how to dispose of the liquids and standards for constructing the wells themselves.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
This article was written by Patrick Rucker and Valerie Volcovici from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.