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Shale Fracking: If it Keeps Moving, Regulate it

Shale technology coupled with horizontal drilling has created the biggest oil and natural gas boom in recent years.  Fracking could become the most auspicious innovation of the past decade.  It has already created thousands of jobs, and has the potential to drive down the cost of energy and reinvigorate our economy.  Unfortunately, the more successful the private innovation, the more Obama’s regulatory regime will ensure it faces inexorable obstacles.

Fossil fuel production on federal lands, in general, is at a 9-year low, with most of the shale boom taking place on state and private lands.  Now the Feds want to ensure that shale fracking never takes off on federally owned land.  Yesterday, a top White House aide announced that despite the recent delay, the Department of Interior is still set to unveil new fracking regulations before the end of the year.  Under the false pretense of protecting the water table, the DOI will create new guidelines for constructing wells for fracking operations on federal lands.  This, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that hydraulic fracturing contaminates the water supply.  In fact, ubber-leftist Lisa Jackson, the Director of the EPA, has admitted that there is no proof to substantiate the claim promulgated by environmentalist groups.

We must be wary of allowing the federal government to obtain a foothold in this successful field.  Up to 30% of all fracking wells are on federal lands and would be encumbered by these regulations.  Moreover, many states, especially those with Democrat-controlled legislatures, will be inclined to mimic new federal regulations on state-owned lands, and even private land.  At present, the states have done a good job in overseeing successful fracking wells.  Let’s keep it that way.

It is incumbent upon Congress to block the administration from getting its hands on shale fracking.  This industry is simply too important to be thrown to the mercy of Obama’s regulatory regime.

There is a legislative fix to this.  House Republicans should take immediate action and pass Louie Gohmert’s FRESH Act, H.R. 4322.  This bill would explicitly grant states the sole authority to regulate, process, and issue permits for hydraulic fracking, even on federal lands within its boundaries.  This is a great preemptive bill that will create jobs and help lower the price of gasoline.  Let’s prevent the federal government from putting the brakes on this engine of job creation and prosperity.  There are currently 27 cosponsors.  Ask your members if they plan to sign onto this commonsense legislation.

The House Appropriations Committee might also want to consider ways to block funding to DOI regulations on fracking when they convene to mark up the FY 2013 Interior-Environment Bill on Wednesday.  This is something we must nip in the bud.

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