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States Can Handle Fracking Rules, Wyoming Governor Mead Says

Wyoming and other states are being proactive in ensuring safety and environmental compliance in the energy production ongoing in their jurisdictions, including the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the shale gas production areas, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead reiterated Wednesday at a news conference in which he answered questions related to a letter he and 16 other Republican governors sent earlier in the month to President Obama.

Mead said he would eventually like to have a face-to-face meeting with Obama administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Lisa Jackson to discuss proposed rules related to fracking and to the coal industry.

"We want to make sure that they [Jackson and the Obama administration] have a recognition that Wyoming and other states have been very proactive in addressing fracking and fracking fluids," said Mead, adding that he has heard complaints from the energy industry that often the EPA officials themselves are causing delays in the environmental impact statement (EIS) process.

"Historically, as we talk to people in the energy industry, part of the problem is not just the rules, but part of it is the manner in which [EPA officials] participate in the EIS process. The complaint is that often times they are late to the table, they are not actively participating, and ultimately they are causing delays in projects."

Mead cited "an energy company" in his state that completed a study that allegedly documented some of the EPA delays on major projects in terms of what the governor called "years -- four or five years." The study projected added costs that the delays have caused for the company and Wyoming, he said.

Mead and the other governors in their letter sent Oct. 19 argued that without a national energy policy, regulations are pushed "without consideration of their cumulative effect" and they form what the governors called "de facto and deficient national policy."

"The point of the letter," Mead said Wednesday, "is to make sure the [president and Jackson] recognize what the states can do, and to express our concerns going forward. To date, I have not heard back from the administration, but ultimately I would like to have an opportunity to have a discussion not only with the governors but with Administrator Jackson to sit across the table from one another to share some of our concerns."

In addition to concerns involving gas production, Mead talked about federal EPA rules that deal with coal mining water control regulations, so-called Maximum Achievement in Control Technology, or "Max Rules."

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