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June 26, 2013

Senators Reject Department of Interior’s Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation with Introduction of FRESH Act


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today reintroduced the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands (FRESH) Act of 2013 (S.1234) for the 113th Congress. The bill is cosponsored by the EPW committee’s ranking member Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) along with Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has reintroduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

“States have been safely and effectively regulating hydraulic fracturing since it was first done in Duncan, Oklahoma in 1949,” said Inhofe.  “Since then, a robust regulatory structure has emerged in every state where hydraulic fracturing occurs.  States and industry have developed strong working relationships so that today’s regulations match the industry’s practices and provide effective environmental protection.  The Department of Interior’s foray into this space is simply an attempt to further hinder oil and gas production on federal lands and makes it more difficult for us to achieve domestic energy independence. 

Streamlined regulations are critical if we are going to achieve this important goal, but the DOI’s rules are duplicative and add unnecessary layers of complication and compliance to the already frustrating business of developing energy in the federal mineral estate.  The DOI should abandon its rulemaking effort and simply defer to the states to continue effectively regulating the process when it occurs on federal lands.” 

Sen. Vitter added, “All too often we see the federal government using flawed science on hydraulic fracturing, even though the states have shown they are capable of regulating themselves. There has been such positive progress with hydraulic fracturing – clearly the brightest spot in our otherwise slumping economy - and this bill gives states the freedom they need to be effective in providing proper safety protocols while growing American businesses. Just recently the EPA was forced to step aside in Wyoming and allow the state to take the lead, and we want this to be the case nationwide.”

“Hydraulic fracturing has allowed for an unprecedented increase in the production of domestic sources of oil and gas, moving us closer to being energy independent, while providing land owners with welcome royalty payments,” Sen. Roberts said. “To continue this progress, it is essential that states, not federal bureaucrats in Washington, be in charge of regulating this form of energy development. I’ve spoken to my Kansas land owners, independent oil and gas producers, and state geological survey, and the consensus is that our state regulators know what’s best for Kansas.”

Sen. Paul added, “Our nation is fortunate to have an abundance of natural resources, and for too many years now we have been constrained by self-imposed regulations. The FRESH Act takes the control out of the hands of the federal bureaucrats in Washington, and hands it back to the states. Fracking continues to be an important issue to the state of Kentucky by creating well-paying jobs, lowering the prices of energy domestically and helping us reach the goal of being energy independent.” 

“We must take full advantage of energy innovations and resources here at home in order to end our dangerous dependency on foreign sources,” Dr. Coburn said.  “Hydraulic fracturing is safer and more efficient than traditional drilling techniques, and states already exercise extensive testing and regulation of the process.  We should continue to allow the states to regulate the practice without interference from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington.  Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner recognized the close regulation states maintain over the process and stated the EPA does not believe it is legally required to regulate hydraulic fracturing.  State regulators are much more in tune with what is needed than federal bureaucrats in Washington.”

Congressman Gohmert said, “The Obama administration is more interested in pandering to its liberal left that it is in creating and preserving American jobs. With the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing regulations, it’s clear that this administration wants to hinder the production of our own natural resources and ‘necessarily’ cause the price of our own energy to ‘skyrocket’ despite the devastation that creates for hardworking middle and low income families and individuals. It is amazing to realize that this administration has abandoned helping America's most needy in favor of more affluent leftists. States should have the sole authority to regulate such activities within its boundaries, so it is time to put people to work producing our own energy while lowering the cost of living which is a double win. This action by the administration is a triple loss for jobs, cheaper energy, and more national energy independence.” 

The FRESH Act would clarify that States have the sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on all land within the boundaries of the States. Companies with hydraulic fracturing operations on Federal lands would be forced to comply with the applicable State laws.

During the 112th Congress, on March 28th, 2012 Inhofe and a group of republican senators introduced the FRESH Act, and Congressman Gohmert introduced a version of the bill in the House of Representatives.


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