Federal level oversight and research picking up

The Secretary of the Interior was in Ohio visiting a small manufacturing facility that is benefiting from the hydraulic fracturing wave, and spoke a bit about the valuable source of energy natural gas is, along with the need to extract it safely and responsibly.

Secretary of Interior Speaks On Energy, Fracking.

This visit corresponds with talk of BLM and EPA requiring full disclosure of the fracturing cocktail that is used, at least that which will be used on production wells located on public lands.

“To me, those rules are common sense,” Salazar was quoted by the Platts news service as saying during a speech in Ohio. “And if we do not move forward with that kind of program from the Department of Interior, my own view is that the failure of disclosure and the failure of giving the American people confidence that hydraulic fracturing will in fact work will end up being the Achilles heel of the energy promise of America.”

We’ve discussed transparency issues before. The extra good news this morning is seeing that Obama’s federal budget proposal includes a good amount of funds for research (I don’t know if it’s sufficient, but it seems like it is a significant amount). EPA has $14 million dedicated to research specifically in regard to hydraulic fracturing in the proposal. The EPA portion is part of a three-agency research effort that will examine impacts of hydraulic fracturing beyond water as the USGS and Department of Energy will also conduct research. The total amount proposed for the three agencies research effort is $45 million. Whether these initiatives will actually be funded in the final budget remains to be seen, but it’s a promising start (and keep in mind: $45 million may sound like a lot to you and me, but in terms of the federal budget, it is miniscule). The administration notes that there is an on-going research and development program in the DOE that may be diverted to fund impacts on public and environmental health – and hopefully include research on socio-economic impacts, too.
“Absent congressional action to repeal, the administration seeks to refocus its 2012 activities to support research and development with significant potential public benefits,” White House budget officials wrote, saying such efforts would be consistent with the administration panel, which made recommendations to “minimize the potential risks and improve the environmental, health, and safety performance of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas development.”

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