President Barack Obama on Friday released the first federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking – the controversial method of drilling for oil and gas that has transformed the US into an energy-producing power.
Fracking is a technique that involves sending a mixture of chemicals underground to fracture the bedrock around oil and gas deposits, making the deposits easier to access. But fracking has raised concerns of contaminated drinking water and wildlife.
“Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old, and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” said the interior secretary, Sally Jewell, according to the New York Times.
The new regulations go into effect in 90 days and require government workers to inspect the cement barriers that line fracking wells to ensure the chemicals are not seeping outside of those barriers. Fracking companies also will be required to disclose to the public the chemicals they use within 30 days of finishing the process.
The government also will ensure companies are safely storing used fracking chemicals.
These regulations only will apply to fracking on public land and will regulate of 100,000 wells, the Times reported. The majority of fracking wells are on private land.
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