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US to regulate oil and gas fracking
Friday, 4th May 2012 07.52am

The Obama administration wants to clamp down on shale gas drilling on public lands and set standards that proponents of tougher regulation hope will provide a blueprint for drilling oversight nationwide.

Industry sources said the Interior Department could propose a new rule on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as early as today.

The measure would require natural gas drillers to disclose chemicals they use to frack wells, a controversial process that involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground to extract fuel from rock formations.

Fracking has been essential to unlocking the nation's massive shale gas reserves, but critics argue that the practice has polluted water and hurt the environment.

The administration has said it supports shale oil and gas development, but has also called for strong oversight.

Administration officials have said they hope the rules could provide a template for states, which handle most of the regulation of fracking.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates that companies use the fracking technique on about 90 percent of wells drilled on federal lands. But only about 14 percent of U.S natural gas production occurred on those lands in 2010.

An Interior Department official, who did not speak for attribution, said the administration has been clear about its aim throughout the process. "We intend to propose a rule that supports the administration's goal of continuing to expand production of America's abundant oil and gas resources on federal and Indian lands by taking steps to ensure public confidence in hydraulic fracturing and other technologies that will play an integral role in our nation's energy security." ( C) Reuters

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