Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signaled Tuesday that the department is close to completing final regulations for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in drilling operations on public lands.

“I can’t give a specific timeline, but we’re pretty close. It will be soon. We’re working on it,” he told NGI following a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The secretary was bombarded with questions from reporters about the timeframe for the fracking regulations, but he refused to be more specific.

“The finality of [the] rules has not been achieved. We are in the process of working on the final details of all that,” Salazar said. “We are doing the kind of editing on them to make sure they will be clear.”

Because natural gas “would power the economy of the United States for the next 100 years,” the Obama administration “will move forward and continue to cheer-lead and push for a robust natural gas agenda,” Salazar said.

At the same time, “it’s important that people understand that unless we do it safely and we do it responsibly, we could essentially create the Achilles heel for this great promise of the United States in terms of domestic energy production.” Salazar’s remarks echoed those that he made earlier this month (see Shale Daily, April 9).

He said the fracking regulations would be “common sense rules” calling for the disclosure of fracking fluids that are injected into the ground and wellbore integrity measures to prevent contamination of water and monitoring requirements for flowback water.