The oil and gas industry has enjoyed relative freedom in hydraulic fracturing without much accountability for its climate pollution and chemical use.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration issued the first-ever national standards for air pollutants related to fracking on federal lands. The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas lobbying arm, was even satisfied with the new rules, which still allowed companies to frack first and disclose later.
And that’s the way the industry wants it to be. At an event this week, API President Jack Gerard argued that there is no case for regulating the controversial drilling technique, suggesting companies should get free reign:
“You can’t be for the potential energy development in the United States and be against hydraulic fracturing,” Gerard said. “You fundamentally can’t regulate the very technology that has created the potential and deny the ability to use that in places where we can see job creation, revenue creation.”
There is strong evidence for the need to scrutinize the fracking industry. The Obama administration’s new rules are just a small step in tackling problems, since it applies to only a portion of the U.S. natural gas supply and won’t regulate greenhouse gases. Hydrofracking poses a great risk for the future of the climate, since studies point to high levels of methane leakage, a greenhouse pollutant more potent than carbon. And thanks to exemptions from the Clean Water and Air Acts, as well as weak state-level rules, companies can avoid disclosure of chemicals that are injected near water wells.