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Interior Dept. releases draft rule on fracturing

WASHINGTON, DC — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced the release of a proposed rule to require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on public and Indian lands, with appropriate protections for proprietary information.
Currently, there is no specific requirement for operators to disclose these chemicals on federal and Indian lands, where approximately 90 percent of the wells drilled use hydraulic fracturing to greatly increase the volume of oil and gas available for production. The proposed rule would require public disclosure of chemicals used after fracturing operations have been completed.
This common-sense measure supports the continued development of America’s abundant oil and gas resources on federal and Indian lands by taking steps to ensure public confidence. It is also in line with steps that some states have already taken, requiring operators to disclose the chemicals they use in activities on state lands.
The rule improves assurances on well-bore integrity to verify that fluids used in wells are not escaping and confirms that oil and gas operators have a water management plan in place for handling fracturing fluids that flow back to the surface.
Technological advancements like hydraulic fracturing have allowed development of previously uneconomic natural gas and oil deposits. In fact, since 2008, U.S. oil and natural gas production has increased each year.
In 2011, U.S. crude oil production reached its highest level in 8 years, and U.S. natural gas production grew in 2011 as well, easily eclipsing the previous all-time production record set in 1973. Overall, oil imports have been falling since 2005, and oil import dependence declined from 57 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2011 – the lowest level since 1995.
The sharp rise in domestic production has improved U.S. energy security and created jobs, and as with any resource the administration is committed to ensuring that we continue to leverage these resources on federal and Indian lands safely and responsibly.
“As the President has made clear, this administration’s energy strategy is an all-out effort to boost American production of every available source of energy,” said Secretary Salazar. “The proposed rule will modernize our management of well stimulation activities to make sure that fracturing operations conducted on public and Indian lands follow common-sense industry best practices.”
The proposed rule would apply to BLM-managed mineral estate, including 700 million subsurface acres of federal estate and 56 million subsurface acres of Indian mineral estate.
Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, a 60-day public comment period will begin, during which the public, governments, industry and other stakeholders are encouraged to provide their input.

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