Obama calls for more fracking time
26 June 2012 | William Brittlebank | Business & Industry, Energy, Water, North America
The Obama administration will extend the public consultation into new laws governing the controversial process of fracking by a further 60 days, as both environmental campaigners and industry groups continue to demand change.
Last month, the Interior Department released draft regulations that would require all oil and gas companies, before the commencement of drilling, to disclose which chemicals they would use after the process was complete.
In a statement, the department said that “to ensure that the public and key stakeholders, including industry and public health groups, are able to provide important feedback that will help inform any final rule, Interior has decided to extend the public comment period for our commonsense draft rule.”
However, despite this week’s decision to extend the consultation period through to September from its original deadline of July, a final ruling is still expected to be made by the end of the year.
The oil and gas industry has responded angrily to the proposed rulings claiming that current legislation already goes above and beyond what is necessary, while environmentalists argue that the rules do not go far enough.
The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves the drilling of dense shale rocks, containing natural gas, which is then injected with a mixture of chemical-laced water and sand into the rock. The procedure enables gas to escape through tiny fissures created by the high pressure injection, with the gas being captured in a deep underground well. The gas is then brought to the surface via the well where it can be piped off.
Fracking has become an increasingly common method of extracting natural gas, especially in the United States where the process has boomed in recent years. As a result the country is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world.
Environmental campaigners have long condemned the method pointing to examples of water contamination and air pollution, as well as linking the process to increased levels of seismic activity.
Drilling companies have strongly denied these claims, and have long argued that fracking provides a safe and cheaper alternative to drilling on foreign soil.
Image 01: Progress Ohio | Flickr
Image 02: Ruhrfisch | Wikimedia Commons
Image 03: Bosc d'Anjou | Flickr