Sportsmen: BLM fracking rules a good start, but provisions in draft need to be strengthened

BLM will take public comments on the proposed federal rules for hydraulic fracturing for 60 days

05-04-2012 // Judith Kohler
Wyoming Pinedale

Proposed federal rules for hydraulic fracturing, including the handling of wastewater and the integrity of well casings, are a step forward in safeguarding public lands, but requirements for publicly disclosing the contents of fracking fluids need to be strengthened, a sportsmen’s coalition said Friday.

The BLM’s draft rule on fracking is a start to addressing concerns about the potential impacts of drilling and handling drilling fluids on the lands that are key to the West’s water supplies, fish and wildlife, said Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development.

However, hunting and angling groups raised concerns about the requirement to publicly disclose fracking fluids’ contents after fracking rather than before and questioned whether the ability of companies to seek variances could result in the circumventing of regulations. The BLM will take public comments on the proposal for 60 days.

"While we are pleased that disclosure of the fracking fluids will occur, we think this information should be provided early in the process to help ensure that the public health, water quality, fish and wildlife are protected from contamination," said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior policy adviser on public lands. "BLM is moving in the right direction by requiring disclosure of chemicals and by codifying the prohibition on unlined storage pits."

Trout Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership are the lead partners in the SFRED coalition.

"We are looking forward to working with the BLM to strengthen the disclosure and variance processes during the comment period," said Brad Powell, energy director for Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project.

"Sportsmen are pleased that our federal decision makers recognize the need to increase transparency during all phases of energy planning and development," said Ed Arnett, director of energy programs for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, an SFRED member. "We will continue to work closely with the administration, Congress, industry and our conservation partners to assure that public lands energy projects employ a science-based approach that sustains our

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

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