The Obama administration will reportedly restrict hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by promulgating a set of rules governing such practices on federal land.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday the Interior Dept. will soon unveil new rules for federal and Native American tribal lands in response to environmental concerns. Oil and natural gas drilling occurs on around 700 million acres of federal land, with 3,400 wells drilled on public lands.
New regulations include making natural gas drillers disclose the chemicals used to drill wells, but the regulations are looser than in an earlier draft, according to the Journal.
Fracking has been key in unlocking huge reserves of shale gas for companies including Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CHX).
Environmental and consumer groups have argued that it presents a health hazard and creates pollution. The issue has led to protests throughout the country, including recent demonstrations in Ohio and New York.
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Individual states have largely handled fracking regulation. But administration officials said federal regulations will provide some guidelines to states.
We intend to propose a rule that supports the administration's goal of continuing to expand production of America's abundant oil and gas resources on federal and Indian lands by taking steps to ensure public confidence in hydraulic fracturing and other technologies that will play an integral role in our nation's energy security, an unnamed federal official told Reuters.
The effects of fracking on the enviroment aren't clear. The Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to release a report on the subject in 2014.