Feds can't count on states, industry alone to protect against fracking's risks

The White House Council of Economic Advisors today released a report that indicated it is "taking steps to ensure that the expansion of natural gas and oil production be done responsibly and with environmental safeguards."

It goes on to say that the current structure for regulating the threats fracking poses to land and water exists at the local level, rather than federal--and that research is underway to inform local environmental oversight.

That's troubling on a number of levels.

For one, our priority as a nation must be building up clean energy sources that can power us safely and securely into the future - energy efficiency, wind and solar power - not deepening our addiction to fossil fuels.

On top of that, protecting American communities from oil and gas pollution is a national responsibility, not just a state and local one. Federal environmental laws have long been put in place to protect communities from toxic industrial pollution.

Yet, decades ago, the powerful oil and gas lobby stealthily secured loopholes for itself from the nation's bedrock environmental laws--including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Our federal leaders should be closing those, not accepting them as permanent and hoping local governments and the companies themselves will fill in the blanks.

It's clear that continuing to rely on states and industry self-policing alone to protect against a fracking industry run amok will not cut it.