Members of the House Natural Resources Committee, led by Ranking Member Ed Markey, recently sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to strengthen the BLM's proposed fracking rule to ensure that it "properly manages the environmental and health risks oil and gas extraction." The House members emphasized the Interior Department's important role in establishing basic safety protections for oil and gas development. An investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee found that, between 2005 and 2009, 14 leading oil and gas companies used more than 780 million gallons of fracking products containing 750 different chemicals, including carcinogens and diesel.
The letter provides a lot of insight and valuable analysis. Key recommendations in the letter about the BLM fracking rule include:
- Require companies to disclose the identity and volume of chemicals used in fracking before it takes place, instead of only after the fact.
- Ban open air pits for storage of fracking waste, since they have a higher risk of leaks and spills than pitless systems and expose hazardous chemicals to the air.
- Set strict standards for well design and construction. Instead, the letter points out that the draft rule is silent on well construction, provides no engineering criteria, and allows operators to get a waiver from even minimum standards.
- Delineate proper distance requirements from schools and other populated areas from fractured wells, especially given air pollution concerns related to fracking.
- Reconsideration of FracFocus as the public disclosure website since, in its current form, it would not provide all the information required to be disclosed to the public and would not comply with the President's Open Government Directive or be subject to federal open records law.
*for more on our take on BLM's draft fracking rule, check out the tag blmfrackingrule.