Denver: U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing about hydraulic fracturing today


Update: Here’s a report from the Associated Press via From the article:

The field hearing by the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources was called in response to last month’s announcement by the Obama administration that it would seek coordinated federal oversight of natural gas production. The Interior Department, meanwhile, is expected to issue new rules in the next few weeks on natural gas drilling on public lands The federal oversight was denounced by officials from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas production…

Shawn Reese, policy director for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, testified that 20 percent of the entire state workforce is tied to energy production. “The importance of natural gas to the state’s economic situation cannot be overstated,” said Reese, who said federal oversight would be “unnecessary and unreasonable.”

Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, a conservative Republican who heads the subcommittee, introduced the hearing by blasting the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Interior for trying to “hijack” state oversight of drilling practices including hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking…

“Do Coloradans react differently to water pollution?” asked a skeptical Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat who attended the field hearing and questioned the state officials who argued against national safety regulation. Holt told a Utah official who testified that her state saw no water contamination in 50 years that perhaps that was because the state wasn’t looking…

Democratic Rep. Diane DeGette of Denver, who has sponsored unsuccessful bills seeking required disclosure of fracking fluids used by energy companies, argued that all levels of government, including municipalities, should have a say in how and where drilling is done. She pointed out that technological advances in direction drilling and fracking have brought the drilling procedure closer to populated areas, triggering a need for more governmental oversight.

Update: From The Denver Post (Mark Jaffe):

The Department of Interior is considering rules on disclosure of frack fluid ingredients, management of fluids and waste water. The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees oil and gas development on federal lands, however, has not yet issued any draft of rules…

There are also significant geological differences between oil and gas fields that are best addressed at the state level, said Colorado Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Sterling Republican.

The states may be the right level for regulation but they have to prove they can do the job, said Bruce Baizel, an attorney for the environmental group Earthworks. Baizel said that a review by his group found that in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Pennsylvania the majority of operating wells are not annually inspected.

From the Fowler Tribune:

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will be in Denver this Wednesday, holding a field hearing on proposed federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The testimony is by invitation only, and it’s expected to explore the economic impact of the Interior Department’s draft proposal, which would require public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking on public lands, as well as increased water and air protections.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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