The New York Times’ Joe Nocera has a column based on an interview with Fred Krupp, a key member of the Energy Department’s special subcommittee on hydraulic fracturing – key because Krupp’s also president of the Environmental Defense Fund. Nocera writes:

"Unlike others in the environmental movement, [Krupp] and his colleagues at the Environmental Defense Fund don’t want to shut down fracking; rather, their goal is to work with the states where most of the shale gas lies and help devise smart regulations that would make fracking environmentally safer."

Nocera discusses the need to improve the capture of leaked methane from fracked natural gas wells, which certainly is an industry priority. Nocera then asks Krupp whether the federal government should take the regulatory lead, presuming that would foster greater uniformity and tougher enforcement. He writes:

"Krupp frowned. “Given the dysfunction in D.C., a state-by-state approach will be more effective,” he said. “We need to focus on getting the rules right, and complied with, in the 14 states which have 85 percent of the onshore gas reserves.”

We agree. States are best situated to regulate the development of natural gas from shale because they’re closest to drilling operations and they know the geology, hydrology and other physical characteristics that vary from state to state.

In this view Krupp has important company: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Earlier this month Jackson told a campus forum that fracking regulations don’t have to extend beyond the state level – following on an interview last fall in which she said the states are doing a good job regulating hydraulic fracturing and that “we have no data right now that leads us to believe one way or the other that there needs to be specific federal regulation of the fracking process.”

We also agree on the need to get the rules right. Oil and natural gas companies have set high, constantly improving standards and are working with local communities and states to run transparent, responsible operations.

It’s in everyone’s interest to get this right, to respect the environment while tapping America’s vast shale natural gas resources, creating jobs and generating economic growth along the way. The country’s oil and natural gas companies are on it.