Obama Administration Unveils New Fracking Rules

Obama Administration Unveils New Fracking Rules

Kalene O'Brien
NewsWest 9 

New federal rules on fracking came out on Friday and they're proving to be controversial.

Fracking has dramatically increased oil and gas production in the U.S but it's driving down prices and helping the economy.

Fracking involves pumping high pressure water and chemicals deep into solid rock until the rock fractures and frees the oil and gas. It's been around for 65 years.

Critics say fracking can pollute ground water and can even cause earthquakes.

Now, the government is stepping in.

The first ever federal fracking rules would apply only on federal and Indian lands. They would require reinforced boreholes, better leak prevention and disclosure of the chemicals pumped underground. Oil companies say there is no need for the new rules but some environmentalists say it's not enough and are pushing for a ban.

"We use about 3 million pounds of steel and cement in each well to be sure the groundwater is being protected. We have over a million applications of this so far with no documented cases of groundwater being impacted," Erik Milito with the American Petroleum Institute, said.

"Fracking is inherently risky and so we don't believe these regulations, which are essentially partial measures, will make fracking safe for public health and the environment," Emily Wurth with Food and Water Watch, said.

The Interior Department argues the regulations will now make groundwater safer. The Obama administration wants states to adopt these tougher new rules and apply them on private land where three-quarters of all U.S. fracking is done.