The continued assault on the process of fracking to access our energy reserves


Friday the Interior Department and the Obama administration proposed tighter restrictions on using the fracking process to access our energy reserves on public lands. While this does not apply to non-public land it is another decision to hurt energy production in this country. The need to be more energy independent has been widely accepted but there continues to be efforts to restrict access to our energy reserves. Granted environmental concerns have been identified as the reason for imposing this change but from all reports the impact of this process has been debunked by the evidence.

The process of fracking is being used in multiple states with positive economic benefits and little if any harm to the environment. The environmental reason for imposing new restrictions is to reduce the risk of water contamination again without any evidence to justify this concern. Reports by government departments have accepted this process based on research and results showing there is no concern for this process.

Another aspect other than the restrictions being imposed is that it will cause higher production costs. One statement by Barry Russell President of the Independent Petroleum Association of America said “imposing new restrictions at a time of plummeting oil and gas prices is the complete opposite of common-sense” Two organizations have filed suit to block these measures. One is the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the other is Western Energy Alliance. The alliance is an organization that focuses on federal legislative, regulatory, environmental, public lands and other policy issues. The organization brings the voice of the Western oil and natural gas industry back to Washington, D.C. Thirteen states make up this alliance.

The second organization that is part of the suit filed is the IPAA which has been in existence since 1929 and is a vital organization protecting independent oil and gas producers across the country the mission and vision of this organization is provided below:

Mission:
“The Independent Petroleum Association of America is dedicated to ensuring a strong, viable domestic oil and natural gas industry, recognizing that an adequate and secure supply of energy is essential to the national economy.”

Purpose:
“The Independent Petroleum Association of America is the national association representing the thousands of independent crude oil and natural gas explorer/producers in the United States. It also operates in close cooperation with 44 unaffiliated independent national, state and regional associations, which together represent thousands of royalty owners and the companies which provide services and supplies to the domestic industry.”

Looking at this assault from this executive department and their substantiation for these changes we must examine the mission of the Interior Department. The mission is identified below:

“The Department of the Interior protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated island communities.”

The key element of this mission statement is providing scientific and other information about natural resources and cultural heritage. Scientific information regarding the fracking process is being ignored in contradiction of this department’s mission. The action being taken by this government entity is an example of duplication in the government structure. I understand that it may make sense with regards to specific elements on topics but the Interior Department from evaluating the mission should not be involved in restricting the fracking process. The EPA has I believe primary responsibility with regards to environmental concerns and should be the organization involved in making this kind of decision.

With regards to the XL pipeline the information the State Department has published the fracking process is an acceptable method of accessing our energy reserves. It is involved for the simple reason the pipeline will pump oil from Canada to to our refineries. The State Department has a responsibility to interact with other countries such as Canada. In this respect it is appropriate to some extent to have the State Department involved in this activity. In addition to the departments identified above comes the responsibility of the Energy Department. The mission of this entity is: “to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.” This makes four departments/agencies involved with accessing our energy reserves which is ridiculous to say the least. This needs to stop. It is hoped that Congress will eventually look at the existence of duplication and do something about it now rather than later. We would all be better off is this situation were properly addressed.

Duplication in the government structure is not something new and the above example identifies the fact that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. Duplicate responsibility has been identified in a GAO report several months ago and needs to be reduced or eliminated. Getting rid of anything in government is difficult if not impossible. Duplicate responsibilities and processes cost money which we do not have and while the amount may or may not be all that much it would be a good start if Congress looked at streamlining operations.

Congress if they have not done so already needs to look at the laws they have generated and the responsibilities given to various departments/agencies within the laws. This is needed for two reasons. One is it would create a more efficient government by assigning responsibilities by topic to one department not several. The second it would avoid creating confusion for applicable businesses and individuals that must comply or face fines. Getting directions from multiple entities makes it hard for anyone to understand the rules and regulations which can be contradictory.


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