The Obama administration is expected to issue “fracking” regulations for wells drilled on federal lands, which produce roughly 5 percent of the country’s oil and 11 percent of its natural gas, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.
Louisiana has roughly 6.5 million acres of federal lands where oil and gas leasing takes place.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves forcing hundreds of thousands or even millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground. The process widens the openings in the rock and helps prevent them from closing so that oil and gas can flow more freely to the surface. The process has revolutionized energy production in the United States, but its impact on the environment, particularly water supplies, have been a subject of controversy.
The new regulations will also cover the disposal of wastewater and require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some companies have opposed releasing the chemicals saying the mixtures are proprietary information and could hurt their businesses, but federal officials say the issue is one of common sense.
The fracking rules are among a number of energy-related regulations the Obama administration is examining, including royalty payments for onshore wells and how much methane drillers can vent into the atmosphere.
Methane is considered a major contributor to climate change. The energy industry, beset by slumping prices, says more regulations would be unduly burdensome.