House Passes Bill to Block Federal Fracking Regulation

WASHINGTON - APRIL 20: U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) (C) speaks with committee members Judy Biggert (R-IL) (L) Melissa Hart (R-PA) (obscured) and Tom Cole (R-OK) (R) during a news conference at the Capitol April 20, 2005 in Washington, DC. The committee announced they are prepared to empanel an investigation subcommittee to review alleged wrongdoing by Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Nov. 21, 2013, 1:22 a.m.

The House voted 235-187 Wed­nes­day to pass a bill that would block pro­posed In­teri­or De­part­ment reg­u­la­tions on hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing from tak­ing ef­fect in states where rules are already on the books.

Re­pub­lic­ans cheered pas­sage of the bill, which has little chance of ad­van­cing in the Sen­ate, as a step for­ward for states’ rights and, they framed the is­sue as an at­tempt to de­fend oil and gas pro­duc­tion from un­ne­ces­sary gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion.

“States have been ef­fect­ively reg­u­lat­ing hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing on both gov­ern­ment and privately owned lands for dec­ades,” Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, the bill’s spon­sor, said in a state­ment fol­low­ing pas­sage, adding, “They have con­sist­ently op­posed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment try­ing to trump state ex­pert­ise in this area. In or­der to pro­tect Amer­ic­an jobs and Amer­ic­an en­ergy pro­duc­tion, we must lim­it the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to slow down en­ergy pro­duc­tion on tax­pay­er owned fed­er­al lands with du­plic­at­ive reg­u­la­tions and un­ne­ces­sary red tape.”

House Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee Chair­man Doc Hast­ings, R-Wash., sim­il­arly ap­plauded pas­sage of the meas­ure, say­ing it would de­fend the do­mest­ic oil and gas boom from heavy-handed at­tempts by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to slow pro­duc­tion.

“Today, the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives took an im­port­ant step for­ward to pro­tect­ing jobs and Amer­ic­an en­ergy pro­duc­tion. This bi­par­tis­an le­gis­la­tion en­sures that du­plic­at­ive fed­er­al hy­draul­ic-frac­tur­ing reg­u­la­tions do not stand in the way of in­creased Amer­ic­an en­ergy pro­duc­tion,” Hast­ings said in a state­ment.

Demo­crats de­cried the bill as a con­ser­vat­ive mes­saging push and warned that it would pre­vent ne­ces­sary over­sight.

“The latest Re­pub­lic­an at­tack on crit­ic­al health, safety, and en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tions is be­ing sold as a so-called ‘states’ rights bill’ that would only block a pro­posed frack­ing rule,” Rep. Peter De­Fazio, D-Ore., said in a state­ment. “But it is writ­ten so poorly, and so broadly, it would es­sen­tially strip the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s au­thor­ity to en­force nearly ­any reg­u­la­tion on the books re­lated to drilling and drilling im­pacts. It would truly al­low com­pan­ies on pub­lic lands to drill any­where, at any­time, with no rules. Re­pub­lic­ans have wasted yet an­oth­er day with ex­treme, cam­paign talk­ing point le­gis­la­tion that has no chance in the Sen­ate.”

Green groups also slammed the le­gis­lat­ive pro­pos­al as a threat to pub­lic health and the en­vir­on­ment.

“Frack­ing is already wreak­ing hav­oc on our en­vir­on­ment and health. Amer­ica’s pub­lic lands”“from the White River Na­tion­al Forest in Col­or­ado to Chaco Canyon in New Mex­ico”“should be pro­tec­ted for all Amer­ic­ans to en­joy. However, this reck­less bill puts our spe­cial places and the com­munit­ies that rely on them for drink­ing wa­ter and re­cre­ation at risk from frack­ing,” Court­ney Ab­rams, dir­ect­or of En­vir­on­ment Amer­ica’s Fed­er­al Clean Wa­ter Pro­gram said in a state­ment.

The White House in­dic­ated it would veto the meas­ure, along with a bill to ex­pand oil and nat­ur­al gas per­mit­ting on pub­lic lands, which also passed the House Wed­nes­day.

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