EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, in an interview aired Sunday by energyNOW on hydraulic fracturing regulation:
"The vast majority of oil and gas production is regulated at the state level. There are issues of whether or not the federal government can add to protection and also peace of mind for citizens by looking at large issues like air pollution impacts, which can be regional. ... So it's not to say that there isn't a federal role, but you can't start to talk about a federal role without acknowledging the very strong state role."
"We have no data right now that lead us to believe one way or the other that there needs to be specific federal regulation of the fracking process."
And here was Administrator Jackson, interviewed Monday, again talking [subscription required] about hydraulic fracturing regulation:
"States are stepping up and doing a good job. It doesn't have to be EPA that regulates the 10,000 wells that might go in."
The EPA administrator is saying pretty clearly that when it comes to writing sound fracking regulations, effectively enforcing them and overseeing the production of natural gas and oil from shale, the states are on it.
While Administrator Jackson believes there may be some areas the feds might look at, she clearly believes state officials are on top of things, and that the federal government should acknowledge their primary role. And she says she's big on natural gas. "Listen, as an environmentalist, I actually think natural gas is important to our country," she told MSNBC. "I do think that it is a potential big change for us. It has immediate benefits from a pollution side. It has immediate benefits from an energy security side."
This is important - running counter as it does to an argument that the locus of the regulation of shale production must be the federal government. In fact, there's consensus that the states are doing good work through regulatory regimes that fit their individual geographies, geologies and other circumstances. Parallel point: State officials are confident about what they're doing. A group of them made the point in a congressional hearing last week. Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy:
"My fundamental point would be to encourage that the states are the appropriate bodies to regulate the oil and gas drilling industry. Protection of water and the environment and the beneficial development of the nation's resources of oil and gas are not mutually exclusive goals. Oklahoma is proof of that."
America's natural gas and oil from shale is an energy game-changer. Strong industry practices, developed from years of field experience, coupled with strong state regulation means this abundant, clean-burning resource can truly be transformative.