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house Bill H.R. 928

Should Fracking be Regulated at the State Level?

Argument in favor

States are already regulating fracking on their own, and each state’s regulators have better context and local understanding to know how they should regulate fracking activities on their state’s lands. Reducing barriers to fracking at the state level will help local economies.

Craig's Opinion
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08/29/2018
The Tenth Amendment to our Constitution states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Given that the nature / spirit of the activities embodied by hydraulic fracturing have not been constitutionally delegated to the federal government, they clearly are reserved to the States.
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Fg's Opinion
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08/29/2018
Environmentalists say fracking dangerous to the health and land I’ve heard no substantial creditable evidence provided So they want to get the Federal Government involved where they have lobbyists to push their agenda . It’s a States decision Let’s Keep it That Way
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Darby's Opinion
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08/29/2018
The more state decisions the less national deficit and national debt we will have!
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Argument opposed

There are numerous cross-border environmental issues involved in fracking that should be addressed by the federal government. Existing federal policies already cover some of the potential impacts of fracking, and should lead to federal oversight of fracking.

burrkitty's Opinion
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08/29/2018
No no no. Do not deregulate this. It’s a terribly destructive technology that damages the ground hydrostatic pressure, lubricates faults, contaminants groundwater, and produces toxic waste that ruins the land that it is used in unrepairable ways. Frankly it shouldn’t be done at all.
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Deirdre 's Opinion
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08/29/2018
Fracking affects so much of our environment that it needs to be regulated at state and federal level. Plus it should be banned
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Jennifer's Opinion
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08/29/2018
There are numerous cross-border environmental issues involved in fracking that should be addressed by the federal government. Existing federal policies already cover some of the potential impacts of fracking, and should lead to federal oversight of fracking.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Agriculture
      Conservation and Forestry
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Environment and Climate Change
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Energy and Mineral Resources
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Water Resources and Environment
    IntroducedFebruary 7th, 2017

What is House Bill H.R. 928?

This bill — known as the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands (FRESH) Act — would give states the sole authority to issue or enforce any regulation, guidance, or permit requirement regarding hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”) on or under any land within their boundaries. It would also exempt hydraulic fracturing from federal environmental laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Hydraulic fracturing on federal land must comply with the law of the state in which the land is located. Federal land is defined as:

  • Public land as defined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (such as land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management);

  • National Forests;

  • Land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation; and

  • Land under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Impact

States with oil and natural gas; oil and gas industry; hydraulic fracturing; public land under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act; National Forests; Bureau of Reclamation; US Army Corps of Engineers; National Environmental Policy Act; and Endangered Species Act.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 928

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) introduced this bill to give states the right to regulate hydraulic fracturing on all land within their boundaries and force companies with hydraulic fracturing operations on federal lands to comply with current state laws:

“In the wake of the overreaching and unaccountable Obama Administration, the need to ensure that states have sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing is more apparent than ever. Texas agencies are routinely much more accountable, more knowledgeable of the fracturing and production procedures used in Texas, and much less indiscriminate, while being focused like a laser on the very air, water, environment that the Texas agency members have to breathe, drink, and live in, much more so than DC-entrenched bureaucrats... States such as Texas have the intricate knowledge and first-hand expertise necessary to properly regulate this energy without the need for a federal, one-size-fits-all approach that has been destructive and costly to our nation’s energy interests. For these reasons, it is time to put people to work producing our own energy, which sends less money to countries that do not like us, all while lowering the cost of living.”

Sen. Jim Inhole (R-OK), who introduced this bill’s Senate companion, emphasized hydraulic fracturing’s importance to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security:

“Hydraulic fracturing is critical to our domestic energy production, supporting economic competitiveness and national security. Unfortunately, the federal government has been seeking to burden the industry with red tape, duplicating state regulations, making our energy production more expensive and preventing the United States from achieving greater energy independence. I am proud to introduce the FRESH Act which explicitly gives states the sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations within their states borders.”

Sue Tierney, a former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Energy under President Clinton and a state cabinet officer for environmental affairs for Massachusetts, points out that competing state regulations make it very difficult to regulate hydraulic fracturing today:

“There’s such a history of states’ rights on this.  Much of the regulation we see over oil and gas production evolved from the foundation of states’ use of their police powers, rather than federal environmental regulation.  That creates a very varied playground in terms of states’ policies and enforcement. There’s been resistance to a more standardized process across the states. I do think that there are some things associated with air quality and associated with clean water issues where there are larger spillover effects on different communities.”

Michael Greenstone, a professor at the University of Chicago, has found that shale development and hydraulic fracturing has positive economic impacts on communities. In one study, Professor Greenstone and his coauthor found that development increases economic activity, employment, income, and housing prices, with the average household benefitting by about $2,000 a year net of social costs.

However, Professor Greenstone and his coauthors also found that infants born to mothers living up to about 2 miles from a hydraulic fracturing site suffer from poorer healthBabies born within about a half mile of a site were 25% more likely to be born at a low birth weight.

Jeff Holmstead, a partner at Bracewell, LLP who represents oil and gas companies, contends that while the federal government should lead on cross-border issues posed by fracking, such as air quality and methane emissions, states should lead on environmental issues in oil and gas development and addressing localized issues:

“When it comes to oil and gas development, it’s not true that Texas[, for example,] doesn’t care about environmental issues. They actually have regulators who know a lot about the industry, that are involved in addressing environmental concerns, so I think a lot of it can be done [at the state level].”

Of NoteHydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a process to extract underground resources such as oil or gas from a geologic formation by injecting water, a propping agent (e.g., sand), and chemical additives into a well under enough pressure to fracture the geological formation.

The federal government already regulates other activities related to hydraulic fracturing, such as surface discharges, wastewater disposal, and air emissions, under a variety of environmental statutes, including: the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), which makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters unless a permit is obtained; the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which focuses on protection of all waters actually or potentially designated for drinking use, whether from surface or underground sources; and the Clean Air Act (CAA), which is the comprehensive federal law regulating air emissions from stationary and mobile sources.

On several occasion,s Congress has chosen not to include hydraulic fracturing in the underground injection control program under the SDWA.


Proponents of fracking call it a “commercially viable practice” that has been used for over 60 years. The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), a nonprofit organization with members consisting of state groundwater regulatory agencies that work toward the protection of the United States’ groundwater supply, released a report in 2009 stating that the “current State regulation of oil and gas activities is environmentally proactive and preventive” and concluding that “[a]ll oil and gas producing States have regulations which are designed to provide protection for water resources.” The GWPC’s 2009 study also contended that there’s a lack of evidence that fracking conducted in deep and shallow formations presents a risk to groundwater.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / sasacvetkovic33)

AKA

Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act

Official Title

To clarify that a State has the sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing on Federal land within the boundaries of the State.

    The Tenth Amendment to our Constitution states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Given that the nature / spirit of the activities embodied by hydraulic fracturing have not been constitutionally delegated to the federal government, they clearly are reserved to the States.
    Like (37)
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    No no no. Do not deregulate this. It’s a terribly destructive technology that damages the ground hydrostatic pressure, lubricates faults, contaminants groundwater, and produces toxic waste that ruins the land that it is used in unrepairable ways. Frankly it shouldn’t be done at all.
    Like (168)
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    Fracking affects so much of our environment that it needs to be regulated at state and federal level. Plus it should be banned
    Like (88)
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    There are numerous cross-border environmental issues involved in fracking that should be addressed by the federal government. Existing federal policies already cover some of the potential impacts of fracking, and should lead to federal oversight of fracking.
    Like (63)
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    Unfortunately environmental impacts do not respect state lines... Additionally, state governments are more easily manipulated by corporations to suit the corporate interest than is the federal government.
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    Fracking should be illegal across the board.
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    No! The damage done to the environment by fracking is national and needs to be regulated nationally. There also needs to be transparency when it comes to the chemicals used in fracking and in the injection wells. At this time, no Repugnacant is willing to stand for the Earth and its citizens against big money/business.
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    No Fracking way! There needs to be a complete federal and state moratorium on fracking. This destructive process is polluting ground water, disrupting eco systems & even causing earthquakes. And for what? For dirty, non-renewable, climate wrecking fossil fuels.
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    No. States that are economically depressed will ignore Fracking downsides which are... Contamination of groundwater Methane pollution and its impact on climate change Air pollution Human Exposure to toxic chemicals Blowouts due to gas explosion Toxic Waste disposal Large volume water use in water-deficient regions Fracking-induced earthquakes Workplace safety Infrastructure degradation
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    Fracking should be ended!
    Like (16)
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    Fracking should not be allowed at all!
    Like (14)
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    No, because it eventually affects us all. IT SHOULD NOT BE DERUGULATED.
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    Get big Government out of peoples lives
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    Absolutely not; it needs to be prohibited at the federal level.
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    The environment impact of fracking is not always local - many times the earthquake fault lines transverse several states. The politics of drilling varies from state to state and the regulation should be based on environmental protection, not state politics where the damage may not end with the state line.
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    Physics/environmental destruction occurs no matter what state it is. State legislatures cannot be trusted to protect the environment as our present situation shows us. A state that tracks heavily unrestricted can have terrible consequences for surrounding states.
    Like (11)
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    This affects our whole country, we need a federal control of this environmental destroyer.
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    Environmentalists say fracking dangerous to the health and land I’ve heard no substantial creditable evidence provided So they want to get the Federal Government involved where they have lobbyists to push their agenda . It’s a States decision Let’s Keep it That Way
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    Hell no. Oil reserves don’t stop at state lines and neither do their impacts. Stop weakening environmental protections for the sake of profits.
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    The unfortunate truth is that Hydraulic fracking is already wasting and poisoning water in multiple states. If the reason for this bill is to roll back federal regulations further is should be opposed. States are already in charge of permitting. The feds have already exempted fracking from the clean water bill-- which is obscene since hydraulic fracking uses on average 2 - 5 million gallons of water per well. Think about that.
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