State of play: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declined to give a specific timeline Tuesday for the release of long-awaited proposed regulations for “fracking” on public lands.
Speaking at the National Press Club Tuesday, Salazar said the regulations — which boost oversight of the natural-gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — will be issued "once we complete the refinement of those rules.”
Pressed by The Hill after the event for more details, Salazar again declined to get specific, adding that the administration continues to “edit” the regulations.
“We want to make sure we get them right and we want to make sure the rules are well understood. So we are doing the kind of editing on them that makes sure they will be clear when they are issued,” he said.
The Interior Department has been promising for months that the regulations would be coming “soon.”
The Interior regulations for fracking on public lands will require disclosure of chemicals used; ensure the integrity of the wellbore; and prevent flow-back water contaminating streams.
The rules have been the subject of an intense lobbying campaign, including recent White House meetings with industry and environmental groups.
Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to open up seams that enable trapped gas to flow.
President Obama has called for expanded domestic natural-gas production, while underscoring the need for improved oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is studying the health effects of the practice, issued final regulations last week to limit air pollution from fracking.
Meanwhile, Obama formed a high-level task force to coordinate federal oversight of fracking, a move intended to quiet industry fears of overlapping regulations.
House committee to approve energy bills
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to approve legislation to expand domestic oil-and-gas leasing and ensure that federal environmental regulations don’t raise prices at the pump.
The Gasoline Regulations Act would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing key air pollution regulations until a Cabinet-level commission analyzes the regulations’ potential impacts on gasoline prices.
And the Strategic Energy Production Act would expand oil-and-gas leasing on federal lands if the president releases oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), a 696-million-barrel emergency oil stockpile.
The committee met Tuesday so lawmakers could deliver opening statements.
House panel to examine bill to streamline enviro permitting
A House Judiciary Committee panel will hold a hearing on the “Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development Act,” which caps federal reviews of infrastructure projects at 4.5 years. William Kovacs — senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — will testify at the hearing.
NRC to examine 'blackout' rules
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will met Wednesday to discuss changes to regulations aimed at ensuring nuclear power plants can deal with a loss of power.
The changes are part of a series of new rules being put in place in the aftermath of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant last March.
Wind energy backers press for tax credit extension
Wind energy supporters are ramping up their push for the extension of expiring tax credits that the industry calls vital to continued growth.
The production tax credit is slated to expire at the end of the year, and its prospects for renewal remain uncertain.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the industry’s main trade group, is working with the lawmakers.
A number of lawmakers supportive of the credit have said they’re uncertain about the timing of an extension even if there’s enough support to move ahead — and the industry group said the lack of certainty is already proving harmful.
“American wind power has generated $15 to $20 billion a year in private investment over the past five years, in the process becoming one of the fastest growing U.S. manufacturing industries. But with the tax credit that is wind power’s primary policy driver set to expire at the end of the year, already the supply chain is feeling the uncertainty, and layoffs have now begun,” an AWEA advisory states.