State urges Congress to leave O&G regs alone

March 17, 2009
The Wyoming Legislature has overwhelmingly passed, and Governor Freudenthal has signed, a bipartisan Joint Resolution requesting Congress to not pass legislation that would diminish the State's authority to regulate oil and gas well completion and degrade its system of protecting public groundwater supplies...

CHEYENNE, WY, Mar. 13, 2009 -- The Wyoming Legislature has overwhelmingly passed, and Governor Freudenthal has signed, a bipartisan Joint Resolution requesting Congress to not pass legislation that would diminish the State's authority to regulate oil and gas well completion and degrade its system of protecting public groundwater supplies.

SJR0005 calls on Congress to leave the regulation of "hydraulic fracturing" -- a safe, frequently practiced and highly-regulated technique used today to produce more clean natural gas than ever before -- to Wyoming regulators that have extensive oil and gas production regulations in place and who have the expertise to implement and enforce them.

Imposing such regulation would raise the cost of producing energy, result in no new environmental benefits and increase energy costs to consumers, according to the Resolution, sponsored by a bipartisan mix of both House and Senate members.

Senator Bill Vasey (D-Rawlins), AAE Chairman and a co-sponsor of SJR 5, said that at a time when energy consumers were starting to see some relief in energy prices, "Washington regulators should not be imposing new administrative costs and mandates that would not add to environmental protection."

"This issue was settled long ago," said Vasey, one of six Senate co-sponsors of the Resolution. "EPA, numerous state regulators, the prestigious Groundwater Protection Council and others have concluded that after nearly one million oil and gas wells have been completed using this technology, no known cases of groundwater contamination associated with hydraulic fracturing has ever been documented."

"Wyoming regulatory experts are in a better position to protect the public health and safety of our citizens than what some in Congress would propose," said Vasey. "I question the motives of the east coast environmental groups that are trying to shut down oil and gas development in Wyoming and elsewhere in the West. They think that they can do it by getting Congress to override state authority -- that is just plain wrong. It's wrong on the science and wrong on the established safety record."

Approximately 35,000 oil and gas wells are fractured annually in the United States and nearly one million wells have been produced using the technology since the technique's inception. Non-partisan regulatory organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (whose members are the Governors of oil and gas producing states), and the Groundwater Production Council (made up of state water and oil and gas regulatory commission representatives) have studied hydraulic fracturing and its impacts to groundwater and concluded the technique is safe.

"If Congress were to go down this wrong-headed path they also would cost Wyoming energy producers more in added costs to produce energy and will add higher energy costs to consumers across the nation who rely on Wyoming natural gas to heat their homes in the winter," said Vasey. "We are stewards of the land, it isn't in our interest to leave our citizens unprotected -- and we do not! Wyoming is in a better position to produce our resources and protect our precious water supplies."

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