A former director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the last President Bush called the agency’s efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of oil and natural gas production on public lands “senseless.”

Given that the economic engine of the country is being driven by energy. “I wonder why on earth we would want to be supporting another senseless regulation which, in my view, is going to slow down and minimize opportunities for the swift production of our energy resources,” Kathleen Clarke, director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Public Land Policy Coordination, said Wednesday.

Testifying at a field hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources at the Colorado State Capitol, she said Utah didn’t need any help from the federal government in regulating fracking. “I think we should make every effort to avoid duplication [of efforts]. There is no need in the State of Utah’s mind for the federal government to step in at this point and insert itself in a process that is being very well managed at the state level.”

Shawn Reese, policy director for the Office of the Wyoming Governor, and Colorado State Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg echoed those sentiments, saying that the federal government was attempting to “hijack” the efforts of the states.

In 2010, Reese noted that Wyoming adopted fracking rules, which apply to oil and gas operations on state and federal lands. The rules seek to protect the quality of ground water; require the integrity of casing and cement properties; and require stimulation chemicals to be disclosed before and after a job is performed, he said.

“We’re concerned that new [BLM] rules will duplicate and possibly be sequential to one of these rules…Such layering of federal rules on top of existing rules is unnecessary, burdensome and unreasonable,” Reese noted. It would add “cost and delay to a process that is already effectively regulated by the state of Wyoming.”

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last Tuesday indicated that the department was “pretty close” to release the new fracking regulations, but he declined to give a specific time line (see NGI Shale Daily, April 25).