Osburn: New fracking regulations to take effect in JuneWritten by Ben Osburn | | firstname.lastname@example.org
President Barack Obama’s Interior Department recently released new regulations to regulate the process known as hydraulic fracking on public lands. They are the first federal well drilling rules in 30 years and were three years in the making.
Fracking is a technique by which rock is fractured by hydraulically pressurized liquids made of water, sand and chemicals. The liquids must pass through hundreds of feet of aquifers to reach the rocks that need to be fractured. Once fractured by the liquids, the rock starts seeping natural gas and petroleum; two crucial sources of energy.
The new rules set to take effect in 90 days will affect 90 percent of all public wells and are aimed at increasing the transparency of drilling operations. The companies that drill on public lands will now have to disclose what chemicals they use in the process, to be reported to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). For years, many environmentalists and residents of towns near fracking sites have feared that the chemicals used may affect wildlife and vegetation.
Along the same lines, companies must now cement the drill holes they use underground to protect water from damage. Contaminated drinking water has been an issue for many towns across the country because of the interaction of groundwater and fracking fluids, making water brown and undrinkable. The rules also require companies to report to the BLM the depth and geologic conditions of their wells. Advocates say this measure will help curb cross-contamination of water with chemicals and fluids.
Opponents of the regulations cite the costs and the effect it may have on job creation. The rules have already been the subject of a lawsuit by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, among others. Meeting the new requirements is expected to cost the industry approximately $32 million, roughly averaging an additional $11,000 a well.
The rules as a baseline for fracking have been met with criticism and many states already have existing fracking rules. The federal regulations will however present new challenges to drilling operations here in Ohio, which are not currently required to disclose what they inject into the ground.
There are concerns about what this will mean for the economy here as well. In the northeastern part of the state, fracking has led to an economic boom in not only energy production, but manufacturing as well. Once-depressed cities like Youngstown have seen a drop in unemployment numbers, accompanied by a revitalization of urban areas. Any challenge to this progress could be a detriment to our state’s economy, as well as to the Democrats’ chances of winning the White House in 2016.
Ben Osburn can be reached at email@example.com.