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Obama Admin Imposes New Regulations On Fracking

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The Obama administration has unveiled new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, imposing stringent requirements for oil and gas drilling in areas already struggling to boost production.

The Department of the Interior’s new rules set standards for cement casings of fracked wells, public disclosure of the chemicals used in the process, more stringent wastewater storage standards and requirements that companies submit geographical information to the government.

“Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.

“As we continue to offer millions of acres of public lands for conventional and renewable energy production, it is absolutely critical the public have confidence that transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place,” Jewell added.

Environmental activists cheered the rules, saying they are necessary to protect U.S. groundwater supplies from being contaminated by fracking fluid. Activists also said restricting fracking would prevent pollution from harming air quality.

“Fracking is a destructive process, threatening our air and water, our wildlife and special places, our families and our climate,” Dan Chu, a director at the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

“Improving safeguards where fracking is already occurring is vital, but equally important is ensuring that more areas are not put at risk,” Chu said. “The fact remains that the safest place for dirty fuels is in the ground.”

Fracking is a well-stimulation process that involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into shale formations about a mile below groundwater aquifers. To date, there has been no confirmed case of the fracking process contaminating groundwater, though faulty well casings have been tied to some leaks.

Interior’s fracking rules have Republican lawmakers and the oil and gas industry up in arms. They argue that federal rules for fracking are duplicative as states already do a good job of regulating the process.

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