Obama EO targets fracking

posted at 12:11 pm on April 16, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Lost in the blizzard of tax returns, Buffett Rule arguments, and Axelrod endorsements this weekend was a story from The Hill on yet another unilateral White House move to burden energy exploration and extraction.  Barack Obama issued an executive order on Friday that launches a task force with the mission of expanding federal intervention into hydraulic fracturing, the technique that could unlock a vast trove of natural-gas deposits … if the government allows its use:

President Obama signed an executive order Friday establishing a high-level task force charged with coordinating federal oversight of domestic natural-gas development.

The task force is charged with ensuring that rapidly growing efforts to tap vast natural-gas supplies in the country’s shale formations, which require advanced drilling techniques including “fracking,” are “safe and responsible.” …

“While natural gas production is carried out by private firms, and States are the primary regulators of onshore oil and gas activities, the Federal Government has an important role to play by regulating oil and gas activities on public and Indian trust lands, encouraging greater use of natural gas in transportation, supporting research and development aimed at improving the safety of natural gas development and transportation activities, and setting sensible, cost-effective public health and environmental standards to implement Federal law and augment State safeguards,” the executive order says.

The order sets up a task force to “facilitate coordinated Administration policy efforts to support safe and responsible unconventional domestic natural gas development.”

The task force is being run through the Domestic Policy Council and will be chaired by White House energy adviser Heather Zichal. Members will include “deputy-level representatives” from the Defense Department, Energy Department, Interior Department, Commerce Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, among other federal agencies.

Hey, this could be good news, too.  Maybe Obama has decided that the federal oversight of fracking activities has become too fragmented for efficient issuance of permits and clearances, and wants to streamline the process.  Getting all of the executive-branch stakeholders together for that effort could relieve a lot of red tape and costs to producers.

Does anyone believe that, though?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  If the Obama White House wanted that as an outcome, the EO would have been signed in time to get play in the news cycle, with its own press event.  Obama would have declared his support for fracking and oil extraction.  The EO wouldn’t have been snuck out of the West Wing in a Friday night news dump, to be buried by Buffett Rule arguments and demands to see Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

Given this administration’s factually-deficient attacks on fracking, especially through the EPA, I’d consider this more of an attempt to consolidate opposition to the practice.  Zichal is an environmental activist in charge of the climate-change effort in the White House after Carol Browner’s departure, which gives even more reason for skepticism in the motives behind this EO.  And with this administration’s pattern of regulatory adventurism already well established, I’d guess that we’re likely to see even more obstacles to fracking from this EO-created consortium of bureaucracies than red-tape reductions.


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As long as the states are allowed to regulate, as they always have, well design, then there is no problem. That being said, as part of a discussion group of drilling/production folks preparing a white paper with recommendations of proper regulations of well drilling & fraccing (not fracking) procedures, Ohio has been a little weak on understanding the process. The rest are just fine.

Each and every well drilled MUST be designed on the basis of the exact geology it is drilled for. There is a lot more to well control than a “blowout preventer” for safe drilling. There are different requirements for each and every well for drilling controls as well as cementing and completion. Almost every hydraulic fracturing job is tailor made for that particular well.

Kermit on April 16, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Barack the Magic Marxist is hell-bent on cutting off every form of fuel that burns. Coal, oil, gas… how long before firewood is banned? (Oh, wait…)

n0doz on April 16, 2012 at 5:48 PM

First, admit that you were dead wrong about your first statement, then we can discuss natural gas prices. Finally, we’ll teach you the definition of historical.

Yes, clearly you need more context and links to back up such a highly controversial statement.
You still haven’t done more than troll around minor points without saying anything of substance.

Want to bet whether there is a Pickens connection as well?

topdog on April 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Why does it matter? Pickens is a Republican and so are many other leaders in the natural gas industry. It’s another pointless attempt to force a controversy where there isn’t one.

bayam on April 16, 2012 at 7:58 PM

It’s another pointless attempt to force a controversy where there isn’t one.

bayam on April 16, 2012 at 7:58 PM

No attempt at controversy. Just looking for clarity.
Trying to understand motives/agenda. I think I have it now.

What are you trying to accomplish?
What do you think explains the creation of the task force?
What do you think explains releasing the news late Friday?

topdog on April 16, 2012 at 8:06 PM

As long as the states are allowed to regulate, as they always have, well design, then there is no problem. That being said, as part of a discussion group of drilling/production folks preparing a white paper with recommendations of proper regulations of well drilling & fraccing (not fracking) procedures, Ohio has been a little weak on understanding the process. The rest are just fine.

Per your first sentence, you obviously didn’t read the Obama “mandate”, which is the EXACT same thing as the IOGCC, which most agencies mirror themselves after AND even Federal laws have to bend too.

Interesting Kermit, for someone like “you” who is supposedly in the oil industry.

Each and every well drilled MUST be designed on the basis of the exact geology it is drilled for. There is a lot more to well control than a “blowout preventer” for safe drilling. There are different requirements for each and every well for drilling controls as well as cementing and completion. Almost every hydraulic fracturing job is tailor made for that particular well.

Kermit on April 16, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Each and every well is only based on the possible known… exploration is a whole-another ball. And ask you are talking about the “drilling” Hmmm… wouldn’t that already be REGULATED by the IOGCC and other agencies just like them??? No one can drill without the authorization of the states agencies… not even the federal government can or the states FINE the feds!

Holy cow, who would have ever thought that?

So the question… why is obama re-inventing the wheel? There are already have regulations via the states.

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 8:32 PM

Pickens is a Republican and so are many other leaders in the natural gas industry.

bayam on April 16, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Which leaders? T. Boone Pickens goes both ways. Heck, T. just worked with Reid to push Natural Gas. It also included, Aubrey McClendon (D), Stephen Schwarzman (R) and George Soros (who we all know how this works).

FYI that is a HuffPo linky, so please don’t bother trying to pull the BS you have been.

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Considering that right now Fracking is pretty much devoid of any regulation at all and the natural gas industry is almost completely exempt from any enviromental rules, mayble a little scruitiny is required if just to save the West from more bubbling rivers and faucets that catch fire.

TinCanNav on April 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Considering that right now Fracking is pretty much devoid of any regulation at all and the natural gas industry is almost completely exempt from any enviromental rules, mayble a little scruitiny is required if just to save the West from more bubbling rivers and faucets that catch fire.

TinCanNav on April 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to allow oil and natural gas to move more freely from the rock pores where they are trapped to a producing well that can bring them to the surface. The technology was developed in the late 1940s and has been continuously improved and applied since that time. The process of hydraulic fracturing plays a major role in the development of virtually all unconventional oil and natural gas resources.

Please visit http://www.fracfocus.org for additional information regarding hydraulic fracturing.
State Regulation

Hydraulic fracturing is regulated by the states. IOGCC member states each have comprehensive laws and regulations to provide for safe operations and to protect drinking water sources, and have trained personnel to effectively regulate oil and gas exploration and production.

On March 5, 2009, the IOGCC hosted two briefings on Capitol Hill to explain state regulation of oil and natural gas. The presentation included an explanation of hydraulic fracturing and how existing state regulations prevent contamination of drinking water resources during hydraulic fracturing operations.

You were saying?

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 9:48 PM

If just to save the West from more bubbling rivers and faucets that catch fire.

TinCanNav on April 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Care to elaborate on that.

Yoop on April 16, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Care to elaborate on that.

Yoop on April 16, 2012 at 10:03 PM

gasland is my guess.

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM

gasland is my guess.

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Oh, I agree.

I’m waiting for TinCanNav to explain why the EPA isn’t discussing their monitoring hole depths.

Yoop on April 16, 2012 at 10:18 PM

I’m waiting for TinCanNav to explain why the EPA isn’t discussing their monitoring hole depths.

Yoop on April 16, 2012 at 10:18 PM

You know I heard someone else say that. I asked them where and they said something like peakoil.com or some BS. I said they were wrong and the EPA are monitoring wells on the north slope, not just for depth but for temps. Then they called me a liar. *sighs* I told them that the EPA goes through oil and gas conservation agencies to get the stats. They called me a liar again. Interesting, I say they are wrong and can prove it.. but get called a liar twice, because they don’t like my answer.

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 10:54 PM

upinak on April 16, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Here is just one, of a number of sites, that is reporting on the push back re the EPA fracking contamination report for the vicinity of the Pavillion field in Wyoming.

One thing to recognize as a potential problem with the EPA data is that the water wells in that area average 300 feet deep while the EPA monitor wells were 900 feet deep. They may have literally drilled their monitor wells nearly into a gas reservoir, where there is no cap rock. Lots of upward interformational transfer in that area.

http://bizmology.hoovers.com/2011/12/15/encana-disputes-epa-report-on-fracking-contamination/

Yoop on April 17, 2012 at 12:11 AM

Yoop on April 17, 2012 at 12:11 AM

Wanna see something funny?

Click This

Yeah, its the EPA.. but go to the executive Summary, first page, third paragraph down:

“Based on our data (Table 2), we found no evidence for contamination of shallow wells new active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids” (P. 3).

This is from 2004. Who is lying? I think the EPA has some explaining to do.

upinak on April 17, 2012 at 12:27 AM

This is from 2004. Who is lying? I think the EPA has some explaining to do.

upinak on April 17, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Yep.

Also, many of those water faucets that can be lit; they were that way prior to drilling due to natural leakage from the gas reservoirs. A lot of people are lying.

Yoop on April 17, 2012 at 8:23 AM

And meanwhile – slightly O/T but very much related – a new study shows Himalayan glaciers are growing.
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/04/17/some-himalayan-glaciers-actually-growing-scientists-find/?test=latestnews

Of course some AGW fanatics are trying to say “but but some are still melting”.
The AGW crowd keeps grasping at straws as more nails are pounded into the coffin.

dentarthurdent on April 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM

It wouldn’t bother me if this were being done in the interest of producing more oil and gas. I’ve worked in local government developing regs for this stuff and it’s not too tough as long as everyone acts in good faith, but I don’t trust Obama or any of his appointees to act in our interests. He’s shown repeatedly that he intends to use his power wherever possible to prevent development of resources and job creation in proven technology. He’s rewarding his contributors who oppose all development on eco-ideological grounds alone. We haven’t had a Democratic president since Carter who took his job seriously, but even he was a fumbler.

flataffect on April 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM

Comment pages: 1 2