While shale gas practices have been on the rise in the U.S., a call for regulations in the controversial "fracking" industry has been answered by the Obama administration.
On Friday, the administration proposed long-awaited rules to add oversight of hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian lands.
The new regulations are designed to temper worries over the process of fracking, which many environmental groups believe threatens the livelihood of the environment and raises safety concerns. The new rules also provide a set of standards for wastewater disposal and construction of wells.
The regulations on drilling on public lands would allow companies to continue with natural gas drilling and expansion plans while also protecting safety and public health, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
"As we continue to offer millions of acres of America's public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place," Salazar said in a Department of Interior press release Friday.
Government approval would be required in order to use fracking in drilling for natural gas on public or Indian lands, the Interior Department proposal said.
"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," according to the Interior Department of press release.
The release added, "The proposed rule would require public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing after fracturing operations have been completed."
However, the new regulations would not impact drilling on private land, which is also where the majority of shale gas exploration takes place. The federal government hopes state governments take notice of the federal rules and considers them for state application.
Shale gas has increased in use around the world, specifically in North America, the U.K., and China.
Advocates see shale gas as a saving grace to wean the global economy from its over-reliance on crude oil, which has been made expensive due to global demand and tensions in the volatile Middle East. For North America, there rests solid potential for shale oil and gas development.
by RTT Staff Writer
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