Fracking debate taking shape on Capitol Hill
1/18/11 - 3:54 pm
Hydraulic fracturing is shaping up to be one of the big dramas of our newly-minted 112th U.S. Congress, and the various actors are already hinting at how the debate will unfold.
President Barack Obama's administration has hinted that gas drilling could emerge as a major issue this year. The day after the midterm elections were swept by Republicans in November, Obama surprised gas industry advocates and critics alike by singling out natural gas drilling as a point of compromise with the newcomers in Congress.
But despite the President's professed enthusiasm for natural gas, according to a January 4th article in the New York Times by the environmental news source Greenwire, the Obama administration has continued to tread a middle ground:
To the extent administration decisions since then have dealt with drilling, they have reined in the industry ... Fossil fuel enthusiasts say they have seen no change in Obama's approach since the Nov. 2 election that he dubbed a "shellacking."
The story cites several administration moves that seem to send mixed messages about fracking.
The first occurred in November, at a forum on hydraulic fracturing hosted by the Department of Interior, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar outraged the drilling industry when he informed the gathering that his department would was considering regulations -- the disclosure of secret fracking-fluid recipes -- which are a sore point with the drilling industry:
Now within the Department of the Interior and the Bureau for Land Management we will be considering issuing a policy that will deal with the issue of disclosure requirements with respect to the fluids that are used with hydraulic fracturing.
At the same time, in a different arena, Obama officials were more open to industry desires, the story points out. According to E&E Publishing, which provides the New York Times with environmental news, the administration's representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission supported the DRBC's December decision to release draft regulations that would allow drilling in the Delaware River's watershed before a full review of the effects of drilling is completed.
From an E&E article written in December:
The Obama administration supports a full study of the effects of gas drilling in the watershed that provides drinking water for Philadelphia and New York City, but it doesn't want to wait until it's finished for drilling to begin.
While the Obama administration's stance on gas drilling may be hard to read, some members of the new Congress are staking out clear positions on hydraulic fracturing.
On the first day of the new congressional session, January 5th, a pro-fracking contingent of the House of Representatives issued a challenge to Salazar's proposal. Thirty-two members of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus showed their support for natural gas development by signing a letter opposing any regulations that would require the disclosure of the ingredients in fracking fluid used in drilling on public lands.
The following week, 46 members of the House of Representatives -- led by New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey, a longtime champion of tough regulation for the natural gas industry -- responded with their own letter to Salazar in favor of requiring the disclosures.
The Congressional crowd calling for tougher environmental regulation may have more warm bodies so far, but reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, who covers hydraulic fracturing for ProPublica, pointed out this week that the pro-industry representatives have more money:
[I]f money is an indicator, the anti-regulatory group has the upper hand. A back-of-the-envelope analysis of campaign finance dollars contributed to the members of Congress who are speaking out on the issue shows that the Natural Gas Caucus received 19 times more money from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010  than the group who signed Rep. Hinchey’s letter.
It's still unclear what all this letter-writing and posturing on natural gas means for upstate New York -- but this year, we can probably expect more action, or at least debate, from Washington on that front.
|'The Dress Up Your Home For The Holidays' sale ends this Sunday, December 21st, 2014|
|Product Protection Plans are now available at The Catalog Outlet!|
|Job Posting: Watershed Maintainer|
|Job Posting: Associate Chemist in DEP's Kingston Lab|
|Bowling Alley With Prime Route 28 Location|
|Immaculate Cape in New Kingston|
|Beautiful Home on 17 Private Acres|
|Tay Tea: Introducing the Fosterbuilt Pop-up Coffee Bar – December 20th!|
|Give Abundantly—Tay Tea's Gift Boxes|
|Tay Tea’s Nini O: Perfect Picks for the Holidays!|
|Tea for Coffee Lovers|
|Drink, Eat, Shop, Make Merry!|
|Holiday Gifts for Tea Lovers|
|SATURDAY, DEC 20 GIFT-MAKING IN MARGARETVILLE 11-3|
|Free lambrusco tasting! Saturday, Dec 20, 11am - 7pm|
|Roxbury Holiday Gala and holiday spirits tasting!|
|Holiday wine and spirits tasting!|
|Free tasting, TOMORROW, Saturday, Nov 22, 2-4pm|
|Healthy Holiday Eating|
|December is Safe Toy & Gifts Month|
|Native American Heritage month|
|Gift Ideas For Lovers of the Outdoors From a Lover of the Outdoors|
|Why we opened a store and why the “why” has changed|
|A Snowshoeing Revival in Phoenicia|
|Wood, Clay, Sand: Earthly Gifts in Heavenly Form|
|Celebrate the Holidays|
|From our pantry to your table - locally made goodies!|
|Shop Local Savings on November 29|
|Owner Financing Possible!|
|Farmhouse with 9+ Acres!|
|Cozy 3 Bedroom Home on 12+ Acres!|
|Elegant Woodwork Throughout!|
|Glorious Country Estate!|
|Over A Country Knoll|
|Home Grown Custom Meats - Custom Meat Cutting and Smoking in Delhi, NY|
|HOLIDAY SHOPPING FOR HISTORY AND FILM LOVERS|
|Parish Park Cottage: Cute vacation rental in the heart of Phoenicia. No car needed!|
|Final Weekend: Chace-Randall Gallery Closes after 10 Seasons|
|A Very Happy Thanksgiving to all our Friends and Neighbors|
|Rock Pond: 3 cottages on 72 pastoral acres with swimming pond for sale|
|Two cute new cabin listings for under $180k|
|JUST REDUCED North Harpersfield Home|
|Holiday Shopping Guide for the Great Western Catskills|