Hydro-Fracking Regulations Should Be Left to States; Federal Government Bogs Down Process

Article excerpt

Byline: Gov. Matthew H. Mead, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

States' rights come with states' responsibilities. Wyoming time and again has proved it can promote development, support its economy and protect the environment. From hydraulic-fracturing rules to air-quality strategies, Wyoming leads in developing solutions that work for people and the future, without compromise on clean air, wildlife, land or water. Those of us who call Wyoming home only want to make the state better. Our environment and natural wonders are among the many reasons we choose to live here. We always have them in mind; we know they are important, and so we balance energy development and environmental protection - and we regulate accordingly, getting the balance right. Where Wyoming has gotten it right - regulating at the state level in a reasonable and responsible way - regulation should be left to the state. Such is the case with hydraulic fracturing. The federal government should reward us for our successful regulatory effort, allow us to continue it and put federal regulation aside.

Specifically, in 2010, Wyoming brought together geologists, engineers, industry, landowners, citizens, environmental groups and policymakers to address hydraulic fracturing. As a result, our state developed pace-setting rules. Wyoming did so well that in 2012, the federal government attempted to follow our lead. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began to consider hydraulic-fracturing rules. BLM's proposed rules are based on those Wyoming drafted, adopted and has followed since 2010. Those proposed federal rules add unnecessary and often repetitive requirements, which add cost and delay projects. They would pile on federal rules over existing, effective state rules, with negative consequences. Those consequences include inconsistency and uncertainty for operators and drillers, which could result - albeit unintentionally - in harm, not benefit.

BLM's use of Wyoming's rules as a foundation has, perhaps inadvertently, added steps, twists and even a few locked doors in developing hydraulic-fracturing rules for federal lands. Even discounting factors such as inconsistency and uncertainty, the proposed federal rules do not bring perceptible benefit to the environment or the economy. They intrude into an area Wyoming already has addressed. They add new requirements without sound basis. When the federal government improvidently steps in, it creates a disincentive for states to implement strategies and programs better left to the states to manage. The federal government should recognize the states' leadership role in many arenas - especially when borrowing state work.

Well-run state permitting and regulatory programs achieve results. They help industry create jobs and maintain environmental standards. Wyoming has a record of success in environmental stewardship, natural-resource development and job generation. We are accountable every day for decisions made and actions taken. We take responsibility. We want to leave a legacy for future generations that is ever better. Our state is simply in the best position to get results. …