GOP senators introduce bills to curb federal regulation of fracking

February 9, 2017

Two US senators introduced separate bills aimed at restricting federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing in onshore oil and gas activities. Both measures were referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where they may be combined before being considered.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) introduced S. 316 on Feb. 6, with Wyoming's two Senate members-Republicans John A. Barrasso and Mike Enzi-as cosponsors. "This bill does nothing to stop the federal government from implementing fracing standards in states where none exist. It simply says that regulations from the federal government cannot trump state action already in place," Hatch said.

S. 334, which Sen. James M. Inhofe (Okla.), introduced on Feb. 7 with eight GOP cosponsors, goes farther. It would explicitly make states the only authorized entity to regulate fracing anywhere within their borders, including on federal lands, its sponsor said. "States have regulated the hydraulic fracturing process with great expertise since the first job was done in Duncan, Okla., in 1948," Inhofe said. "[They] are doing a great job, and we should keep them in the driver's seat."

Inhofe also introduced S. 335, which would give states the right to develop energy resources on federal land within their borders, excluding American Indian lands, national parks, units of the National Wildlife Refuge system, and congressionally designated wilderness areas. It had four cosponsors, and also was referred to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Both bills were reintroductions of measures Inhofe introduced in 2016...

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