(Unique comments are best, so if you have time, craft one of your own. If not, please use the script below.)
I am concerned about potential impacts of fracking on the quality of drinking water supplies and about potential contamination of the public lands that I cherish. Indian tribes, whose financial resources do not always allow them to set and enforce environmental standards also deserve protection. The minimally protective standards developed by BLM to address fracking on federal and Indian lands should be maintained. In comparison to the potential risks of fracking on public health, the exquisite natural beauty of public lands, and the already-minimal natural and financial resources available on Indian lands, the requirements of BLM’s rule are justified and represent an exceedingly small burden and cost to oil and gas companies. There is little, if any, duplication with state or Indian laws. Many states and tribes do not have protective fracking standards or do not enforce them if they do; these laws cannot compensate for a level playing field of federal protections. Eliminating BLM’s rules would give what belongs to the public and to Indian tribes to corporations in an unfair exchange of risk and degradation for profit.
The Trump Administration is proposing to rescind Obama era rules governing fracking on Indian and federal lands. The administration now argues that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule is too costly, is duplicative of state and tribal regulations, and its reporting requirements are burdensome to oil and gas companies. Fracking involves pumping large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals underground to break apart rocks to release oil and gas. According to the BLM, there are more than 100,000 oil and gas wells on federally managed lands, and 90% of those currently active use fracking. There is growing public concern about fracking’s contribution to groundwater contamination and earthquakes, and the lack of transparency in the chemicals used. BLM’s modest regulations require oil and gas operators to conduct fracking in a safe, environmentally sound manner and to publicly disclose the chemicals pumped underground. The more than 1.35 million comments received on the proposed rule convey the public’s concern about the safety of fracking.
Implementation of BLM’s rule has been delayed due to litigation, however, its minimal requirements would provide greater protection of drinking water, reduce risks of contaminated wastewater releases, allow disclosure of unstable geological conditions, and inform the public of chemicals injected underground. The Michael Saul, with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the decision “highlights Trump’s desire to leave our beautiful public lands utterly unprotected from oil industry exploitation. Backing away from these modest rules is doubly dangerous given the administration’s reckless plans to ramp up fracking and drilling on public lands across America. Federal rules are critical because state rules in places like Oklahoma have been appallingly slow to confront air pollution, man-made earthquakes and other serious harms caused by oil companies.”