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Barrasso “The Lasso” Finds His Mark Once Again

In a letter today to Interior secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) underscores the fact that Wyoming, as well as other oil and natural gas producing states, are best equipped to effectively regulate hydraulic fracturing. The senator “opposes adding any burdensome, job killing federal regulations on American energy producers,” according to a press release from his office.

Barrasso, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources panel, writes this to the Interior secretary:

I oppose adding burdensome, new red-tape that will further discourage oil and gas production on public lands in the West.

The states have primary experience regulating oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing. Their regulations have defined the management structures to protect the environment. The State of Wyoming recently updated its oil and gas regulations to increase transparency for chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Citing the fact that “Oil and natural gas production is critical to jobs and economic development in Wyoming and throughout the western United States,” the senator requests that the secretary answer these crucial questions promptly:

  1. What specific changes to existing federal onshore oil and natural gas policies is the Department of the Interior considering?
  2. Has the Department compiled existing state oil and gas regulations related to hydraulic fracturing?
  3. What substantive evidence has the Department collected to suggest the existing state and federal regulatory process does not adequately function?
  4. Will the Department commit to conducting an economic analysis prior to finalizing any changes to the federal onshore oil and natural gas program?
  5. Is the Department planning to solicit input from impacted state regulatory agencies and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission?

Sen. Barrasso isn’t alone in his fight to ensure that misguided federal laws and regulations do not undermine Wyoming’s economy, its workforce or our nation’s ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

At an Interior Department forum last Tuesday, entitled “Forum on Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing on Public Lands,” deputy secretary David Hayes said this in introducing forum panelist Tom Doll of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission:

And then we have Tom Doll who’s supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a position he’s held since March 2009 after being appointed by Governor Freudenthal.

He’s a veteran of Wyoming’s Soil and Gas Industry with more than 37 years of experience in engineering, project management and supervision in field operations, has a petroleum engineering degree from the University of Wyoming. And as you know, Wyoming has been a real leader in terms of disclosure issues and regulatory issues associated with hydraulic fracking.

Here are key excerpts from Mr. Doll’s remarks:

If we weren’t able to use hydraulic fracturing in the state of Wyoming, our wells would not be economic by any stretch of the imagination. These are tight reservoirs. They’re thin. They require hydraulic stimulation to be economic.

That would be, without hydraulic fracturing, that would be a negative impact on Wyoming’s economy. We gain tax revenues from severance ad valorem sales tax and other sources. And, in fact, my agency is funded completely from industry on a conservation tax.

Wyoming has no income tax and low property and sales taxes and so hydraulic fracturing is the reality and it means something to each individual in the state of Wyoming.

Since 1950s, when we got our oil and gas conservation commission set up, we have had no confirmed cases of ground water well contamination due to well stimulation in the state of Wyoming. We do require that we will approve federal wells via these applications for permit to drill and sundry notices prior to any work commencing on federal minerals as well. And our Web page provides all of our disclosure information for the public.

Energy In Depth, for its part, is also working aggressively to inform elected officials, concerned citizens, and other key stakeholders of fracturing’s long and clear record of environmental safety, as well as the key role that this tightly regulated technology will continue to play in meeting our nation’s increasing energy needs.

Under the headline “With fracturing, energy security is on the horizon,” EID’s Chris Tucker writes this in today’s The Oklahoman:

An energy revolution is under way in the U.S. thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a 60-year-old oil and natural gas stimulation technology that — coupled with advancement in horizontal drilling — is making the development of energy from underground shale formations economical for the first time. … The U.S. State Department is aggressively promoting shale gas exploration throughout Asia and Europe as a way to reduce global carbon emissions.

While one bureaucracy in Washington is promoting natural gas abroad, another is angling to hamstring production at home, citing claims that it contaminates groundwater. Despite how fracturing has been portrayed in Hollywood and by some national media, it’s been tightly regulated by energy-producing states for more than six decades, and safely used more than 1.1 million times without impacting groundwater. Top EPA officials have confirmed this fact.

For decades, politicians have touted “energy independence.” As modern shale gas development continues to expand, energy security is now truly on the horizon. Oklahomans reside atop the Woodford Shale, whose development has contributed ample jobs and revenue to the state. Even President Obama recently cited natural gas as an area for congressional bipartisanship.

Let’s hope for the sake of Oklahoma — and for the nation — that EPA abandons misguided regulations that won’t provide any additional environmental benefits.

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