Energy and Commerce Members Press White House and EPA on Expansion of Federal Government’s Role in Natural Gas Regulation

June 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are seeking answers about the president’s recently issued Executive Order establishing an Interagency Working Group that will be involved in the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Members wrote today to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Chairwoman of the Working Group Heather Zichal requesting clarification of the Executive Order’s intent and the role of the federal government in natural gas regulation. In particular, the letter questions how recent actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to increase regulation of fracking are being coordinated with the Working Group, and whether they are consistent with efforts to support domestic energy production. States are currently the primary regulators of natural gas production and have helped ensure safe and responsible development during the recent natural gas boom. Members are concerned EPA’s actions, whether consistent or inconsistent with the efforts of the Working Group, would expand federal regulatory authority, creating more red tape and bureaucracy, which could ultimately discourage energy production and job creation.

”The Executive Order charges the Working Group to facilitate coordinated Administration Policy efforts to support safe and responsible unconventional natural gas development.’ However, the Executive Order flags augmenting State safeguards’ as a role for the Federal government. The Order is not clear on whether that Federal standard-setting role is in addition to or in lieu of the States’ role as primary regulators. As this Federal augmenting’ role is mentioned as something apart from simply implementing Federal law, it requires particular explanation,” wrote the members.

The letter requests a greater explanation of EPA’s activities related to natural gas production and the Working Group’s role in them. These include EPA’s current study on drinking water and hydraulic fracturing, EPA’s new chemical reporting requirements for hydraulic fracturing, and EPA’s groundwater investigations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act.

For a full copy of the letter, click here.