INHOFE INTRODUCES HYDRAULIC FRACTURING AND STORM WATER BILLS

WASHINGTON, DC ñ Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, introduced two energy-related bills today. One clarifies existing law that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Another bill clarifies and reiterates Congressional intent in the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) that uncontaminated storm water discharges from oil and gas exploration, production, processing and treatment sites are exempt from the burdensome and costly EPA storm water program. ìHydraulic fracturing is a widely used and understood technique regulated by States, which significantly improves production by allowing gas to move more freely through rock pores. The National Petroleum Council estimates that 60 to 80 percent of all wells drilled in the next decade to meet natural gas demand will require fracturing,î Senator Inhofe said. ìRegulations, especially federal intrusions, must be based on sound science and with a complete understanding of the issue. In the 107th Congress, I successfully amended the energy bill with my colleague Sen. Bingaman, clarifying that the EPA does not have authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing unless a comprehensive study recommended it. EPA has completed such a study. Based on thorough analyses and good science, I am introducing a bill today that simply clarifies existing law that the EPA does not have authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing.î EPAís comprehensive study of hydraulic fracturing reviewed more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, interviewed roughly 50 state and local government agency employees, and communicated with scores of private concerned citizens. It concluded that ìthe injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into CBM [coalbed methane] wells poses little or no threat to USDW [underground sources of drinking water] and does not justify additional study.î ìMy bill to clarify treatment of exploration and production sites under the CWA will help protect water quality,î Senator Inhofe said. ìOil and gas sites currently use a series of available stabilization practices to route storm water around sites to avoid contamination, thereby protecting nearby waterways. The bill I introduced today simply frees the sites from having to undertake a burdensome permitting process that was not designed for this industry and will cost the United States valuable energy development.î The bill is necessary because EPA incorrectly believes that construction can be separated from exploration, production, processing and treatment and therefore, it has the authority to require permits for the construction of an oil and gas site. DOE analysts have estimated that the EPA process could result in the loss ñ from now through 2025 ñ of between 1.3 and 3.9 billion barrels of domestic oil and between 15 and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.