The House of Representatives is preparing to vote next week on two Republican bills that would prohibit federal regulation of oil and natural gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and streamline the process for obtaining a permit to drill on public lands.
HR 1965, drafted by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), which could make it easier for oil and gas companies to obtain drilling permits on federal lands, is slated to go to the floor. It would give the Interior Department 60 days to approve or reject onshore drilling permits. Permits would be deemed approved if Interior does not meet the deadline.
The measure, which cleared the House Natural Resources Committee in late July, would reform the leasing process for onshore oil and natural gas projects on federal lands to eliminate unnecessary delays, reform the process for energy permitting, and ensure funds are available for efficient wind and solar permitting.
A second measure, introduced by Rep. Bill Flores' (R-TX) is the latest Republican effort to thwart federal oversight of fracking. Flores' measure, HR 2728, which was passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee in late July, would bar the Interior Department from enforcing federal fracking regulations in any state that already has regulations, and recognizes states' authority to regulate this type of activity.
Interior released a draft rule to regulate fracking at the federal level in May (see Shale Daily,May 20). It would require oil and gas operators to disclose the chemical fluids used during fracking operations, and to address wastewater that returns to the surface after the process is completed.
The two Republican bills are expected to clear the House, but given the current partisan divide, it is not likely to get through the Democratic-controlled Senate.