Citing conflicting words and actions by President Obama on natural gas, a chief economist for a major producer group Wednesday urged Congress to put a stop to what he claims is the administration’s attempt to overregulate hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and oil and natural gas production.

“On the one hand, we have President Obama saying he supports natural gas development. On the other hand, we have his administration proceeding full speed ahead with investigations and regulations that could hamper that development,” said John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute (API), in a teleconference Wednesday.

“In pointing out this polar-opposites approach, we are calling on Congress to halt the administration’s drive toward overregulation of hydraulic fracturing and commercial oil and natural gas production,” he said.

Felmy estimated that eight federal agencies — the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Securities and Exchange Commission and Health and Human Services — are looking at fracking. Some of these investigations or studies have no specific timeline, yet information continues to be shared with the press about how further studies and stricter regulation are being prepared, Felmy said. This only adds to a state of uncertainty.

The “misinformation” from the debate on fracking “has led to a state of fear around a 60-year proven hydraulic fracturing process that has sparked a revolution of job creation, economic growth and a brighter energy future,” Felmy said.

In his State of the Union address last month, Obama said the country has a supply of natural gas that can last the nation nearly 100 years (see Shale Daily, Jan. 26). Noting that experts believe natural gas will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade, the president vowed that his administration would take “every possible action” to safely develop it.

“Yet within weeks of making this statement, the administration has done just the opposite, announcing several plans to further constrain development.”

Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is floating a draft plan that would require companies drilling on public lands to disclose the chemicals used in their fracking operations (see Shale Daily, Feb. 6a). In addition, BLM has issued a draft proposal that cuts in half the public lands that could be made available in three western states for early research and development projects for tar sands and oil shale (see Shale Daily, Feb. 6b).