New rule makes companies disclose chemicals used in fracking

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By Rebecca Sanchez,

from MSNBC,

A day after President Barack Obama signed an executive order to cut the U.S. government’s greenhouse gas emissions, his administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to reveal the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

The new regulation also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in fracking, a drilling method that prompted an increase in natural gas production, according to the Associated Press.

“Just as much as any national park, these resources belong to each and every American. Their responsible development helps drive our economy and our way of life, and it is my duty to ensure that as they are developed, it is done in a balanced and thoughtful way for the public good,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement Friday.

The rule, which has been under consideration for at least three years, will take effect in June. Environmentalist groups worry the regulation could cause unsafe drilling techniques and pollute groundwater, and those in the oil and gas industry think chemical disclosure could harm the boom in drilling, according to the AP.

Last year, lands under the stewardship of the Interior Department produced more than 200 million barrels of oil and almost 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Jewell wrote in her online statement. There are currently at least 100,000 wells on federally managed lands across the country, with close to 3,000 new wells drilled each year. Of those wells currently being drilled, she added, more than 90% use hydraulic fracturing.

The White House finalized the rule just weeks after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell launched his own all-out war against Obama’s regulations on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier this month, the Republican senator from Kentucky encouraged states to defy federal environmental rules simply by ignoring them. He is protesting the EPA’s attempts to slash greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants; once the agency finalizes their rules this summer, they will ask states to submit a plan detailing their plans to implement the regulation.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Obama directed the government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and increase its use of renewable energy to 30% of its consumption, giving a further boost to green industries. Throughout his presidency, Obama has pushed forward his ongoing effort to combat climate change. Federal records this week revealed this winter and the first two months of 2015 were the hottest on record globally.

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