DOE panel calls for tougher fracking rules

A Department of Energy advisory panel that was criticized by environmentalists for having too many members connected to the oil and gas industry has issued a second report calling for stronger regulation of hydrofracking by state and federal agencies.

ProPublica reports:

A federal energy panel issued a blunt warning to shale gas drillers and their regulators today, saying they need to step up efforts to protect public health and the environment or risk a backlash that stifles further development.

“Concerted and sustained action is needed to avoid excessive environmental impacts of shale gas production and the consequent risk of public opposition to its continuation and expansion,” said members of the Energy Department’s Shale Gas Subcommittee in a draft report released today

The report calls on the EPA to revise a proposed rule on air emissions to include limits on methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and criticizes recent moves by the agency that have hindered efforts to get better data from the oil and gas industry, a crucial step toward improving controls.

The report also concludes that joint federal and state efforts to ensure water quality are “not working smoothly” and urges the EPA to move unilaterally to improve oversight as it carries out a study on potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.

The panel’s recommendations are not binding, but Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said they carry significant weight.

The NRDC is calling on President Obama to issue an executive order forcing agencies to implement the panel’s recommendations.

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Ed Brayton

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