[JURIST] US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell [official profile] on Friday announced the publication of a rule regulating fracking on federal land [text, PDF]. The rule is intended to ensure [press release] that wells are properly constructed to protect water supplies, to make certain that the fluids that flow back to the surface as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations are managed in an environmentally responsible way, and to provide public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. The rule was proposed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) [official website] in May 2012 and published in the Federal Register with a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comment in May 2013. The proposed rule received more than 1.5 million comments, which were taken into consideration during the drafting of the final rule. The final rule will take effect in 90 days.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking [JURIST backgrounder], is a process by which chemicals and water are blasted deep underground to release trapped gas in rock. Fracking is a highly debated topic [JURIST report] in regions where recent Marcellus shale gas developments have been associated with toxic water pollution. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration announced in January that they will block hydraulic fracturing across the state [JURIST report]. The New York State Assembly approved a two-year ban [JURIST report] on fracking in 2013. The measure postponed any potential fracking until May 15, 2015, by which time a “comprehensive health impact assessment” could be conducted to identify potential public health impacts that may result from the process. The ban represented a continuation of a previous ban on fracking that had been in place in the state since 2008. Also in 2013, JURIST guest columnist Nicolas Parke debunked rumors around fracking [JURIST op-ed] and advocated the pursuit of efficient regulations that target where fracking has the potential to adversely affect the environment..