PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to New BLM Fracking Rule

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Interior Department, today will publish in the Federal Register its plans to eliminate restrictions on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, a ban the Obama administration put in place in 2015. The so-called “fracking ban” has been on hold since July 2016 when a federal court in Wyoming suspended it, saying BLM had no authority to regulate the technique for extracting oil and natural gas.

The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“The Department of the Interior made the correct decision in withdrawing the fracking regulations imposed by the previous administration. These regulations, which applied only to federal land, were unnecessary because state governments already have extensive environmental regulations in place that have a proven track record of ensuring oil and natural gas development has minimal environmental impact.

“Time is money in the oil and gas business, and these rules would unreasonably increase the amount of time required to permit wells. The federal government is supposed to take 30 days to approve drilling applications; under the Obama administration, the average approval time was 257 days.”

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“All praise to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and President Donald Trump for reversing the Obama administration’s anti-fossil fuels, anti-fracking rule on lands of the United States. The vast shale reserves owned by all of us through the federal government will now be available for market-oriented shale development while respecting the natural environment and improving the human environment.

“Law-professor-in-chief Barack Obama decided in his second term to adopt the Al Gore view of the world and eliminate our use of fossil fuels, in the process imposing new regulations without regard to the law and our collective well-being. President Trump’s America First Energy Plan is the antithesis of the Gore/Obama hostility to modernity, and today’s action by the Interior Department is an important step forward for economic growth and human well-being through fossil fuels. This step is hugely important both practically and symbolically and is something we should all applaud.”

Fred Palmer
Senior Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The good news is President Trump is moving forward with his goal of promoting U.S. energy dominance; which, in part, means cutting duplicative, unnecessary, and burdensome regulations that carry high costs but provide no environmental benefit. States and tribes have long managed and regulated oil and gas regulations on public lands, protecting the environment while promoting U.S. energy production. Obama’s fracking regulations were part of his multi-pronged, misguided climate restrictions, placing an additional hurdle to oil and gas production on federal lands, on top of his canceled lease sales and various moratoria.

“It’s time to unlock the country’s energy resources, reap the revenues, and promote American energy dominance.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
[email protected]

“This is wonderful news out of the Department of the Interior. BLM had no scientific justification for these overly restrictive regulations on hydraulic fracturing on public lands to begin with, as the dozens of peer-reviewed studies on the process’ safety published just this decade can attest to.

“Fracking has transformed the energy outlook of the United States, as well as the U.S. economy as a whole, over the last 10 years and now accounts for over 50 percent of U.S. crude oil production. Drilling is being conducted in thousands of locations across the country in a safe and responsible manner, and federal, state, and local governments have tested further thousands of sites nationwide for both air- and water-quality safety. These costly regulations were meant to act as a de facto ban on fracking on public lands. We can be glad they are no more.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The decision by the Interior Department to eliminate the BLM’s fracking restrictions on federal and tribal land is a welcome and positive move. North Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming challenged the rule in court in 2015 and won a temporary stay in implementation while the case works its way (expensively) through the courts.

“The statement issued by the BLM on its decision to revoke the rule states: ‘The BLM is now proposing to rescind the 2015 final rule because we believe it is unnecessarily duplicative of state and some tribal regulations and imposes burdensome reporting requirements and other unjustified costs on the oil and gas industry.’ The BLM statement echoes the comments submitted by North Dakota’s industrial commission in 2012. This one-size-fits-all federal regulation would be burdensome and duplicative, and lead to the wasteful and inefficient development of the state’s oil and gas resources. As is always the case with federal environmental regulation, the benefits were overstated and the true cost of implementation was ignored.

“This rule, as written from some cubicle deep in the swamp, would have put North Dakota’s potable water at risk by forcing oil companies far below our fresh water zones before setting surface casing, exposing our drinking water to contamination. North Dakota and the other states were right to fight this rule and Secretary Zinke is right to pull it. Frac, baby, frac!”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“During the past decade, the United States has reduced carbon dioxide emissions more than any other nation in the world. This is due almost entirely to the natural gas revolution, made possible by fracking, bringing low-emissions natural gas to the market at inexpensive prices. People who believe in a global warming crisis should champion fracking wholeheartedly. People who desire affordable energy should also champion fracking.”

James Taylor
Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Again, the Trump administration is keeping its promise to ‘Make America Great Again’ by overturning President Obama’s ruling on methane emissions to suppress hydraulic fracturing. Confidence in President Trump has resulted in the oil and gas industry increasing the number of oil and gas drilling rigs operating—from 500 on the date of Trump’s victory to 947 today, a 90 percent increase. The nation will become energy-independent and able to exert power on international relations by its ability to replace oil and gas exports of our adversaries.”

James H. Rust
Professor of nuclear engineering (ret.), Georgia Tech
Policy Advisor, Energy & Environment
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The innovation here is horizontal drilling. Fracking has been done for 75 years. The Obama administration banned it without understanding anything about gas extraction.”

Tom Sheahen, Ph.D.
Professional Physicist and Energy Expert
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The oil and gas industry is already one of the most heavily regulated industries in our country and they take the full risk and expense of finding oil and gas. They don’t need more crippling nonsensical regulation.

“The ‘fracking ban’ put in place by the Obama administration on federal lands was simply an overreach by the federal government. The states are more than capable of regulating all facets of oil and gas as they are on the ground and know better than anyone what works and doesn’t work in their state.

“I applaud this excellent decision to eliminate this restriction.”

Michelle Smith
Vice President, Land
Policy Advisor, Energy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Whatever the latest technology, environmentalists seem intent to ban it, even though the latest technology is almost always easier on the environment than the previous one.

“Consider the horse and buggy, which was replaced by the coal-fired steam engine, which was in turn replaced by gas- or diesel-burning engines. Half of all arable farmland used to be devoted to growing feed for workhorses and is now devoted to growing food for humans. Who could possibly imagine going back?

“Fracking is the most recent case in point. Rather than simply drill and extract whatever hydrocarbons were immediately available, fracking allows for far-more efficient use of an oil or gas field, to the point where some fields seem capable of providing literally centuries of energy for mankind. But, funded by Arab oil sheiks and Moscow, environmentalists lobbied Washington to try to keep America wedded to old technology.

“President Obama listened, but Trump did not. And, God willing, America will never go back.”

Mischa Popoff
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 33-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.