Obama’s fracking stand leaves many unhappy

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s embrace of fracking is earning wrath from environmentalists but little love from the oil and gas industry.

Obama praised the U.S. natural gas boom in a recent climate change speech and credited it with delivering cleaner energy. The boom is a result of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which chemical-spiked water is pumped underground to free oil and natural gas trapped in shale rock.

The Obama administration’s proposed fracking rules say companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals used until after the drilling is finished. More than 175,000 public comments were posted on the new rules on Friday, the last day for the public to weigh in.

Environmental activists like David Braun said they volunteered for Obama’s election campaign and now feel like the president is turning his back on them.

“It’s time for him to represent those who elected him, not big oil and gas,” said Braun, an anti-fracking organizer from New York. “While it’s admirable that the president wants to tackle climate change, fracking has no place in any plan to combat it.”

Anti-fracking protesters greeted Obama on Friday as he toured upstate New York to promote a college affordability plan. A large number lined the road into Obama’s town hall event at Binghamton University with signs, some saying “No Fracking Way.”

New York state is embroiled in a debate over whether to lift its moratorium on fracking. Hydraulic fracturing supporters also turned out on Obama’s route on Friday to speak up for fracking.

The Obama administration’s proposed new fracking rules cover federal lands. The administration hopes they can also be a model for state regulations on private lands, where most fracking occurs.

The rules would set standards for integrity of wells and managing polluted water that flows back to the surface. It’s the first big attempt at federal oversight of the fracking boom sweeping across the country.

Oil and gas companies are bristling at the rules, which they say will mean $354 million a year in added costs. The federal Bureau of Land Management estimates the cost will be closer to $20 million. The Oklahoma-based oil industry analyst Spears &Associates estimates the North American fracking market at more than $30 billion in 2012.

Industry advocates of fracking said the states already do a good job of oversight and Obama shouldn’t step in.

“This industry is leading an economic renaissance in America,” said Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute trade group. “There is no sound legal or environmental reason to jeopardize that growth with regulatory confusion and uncertainty.”

Environmental impacts of fracking are in dispute. Studies have linked methane in some water wells to fracking, and there is a growing body of research tying modest earthquakes to deep disposal of fracking waste. The results of an Environmental Protection Agency study on the potential for groundwater contamination aren’t expected until 2016.

Obama praises natural gas from fracking for economic and environmental benefits. The fracking boom led to cheap U.S. natural gas. As a result, utilities are switching to it from the more polluting coal.

“We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions,” Obama said in his recent climate change speech.

But natural gas produces the potent greenhouse gas methane. Researchers are trying to figure out how much methane is leaked from wells, pipelines and compressor plants.

More in Local News

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

1 person shot in Everett thrift store parking lot

Multiple people called 911 after overhearing a loud argument and then multiple gunshots.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

Old Silvana Creamery recalling whole raw milk

The milk was sold at the farm store, directly to customers and at local stores.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
If drivers paid even more, I-405 toll lanes might speed up

A report recommends lifting the maximum toll of $10 and varying it by segment traveled.

Departing mayor’s locally drawn portrait joins city’s pantheon

Artist Elizabeth Person’s portrait of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will hang with others at City Hall.

Investigation recommends girl shot by officers face charges

The teen is accused of assaulting her boyfriend and the responding police officers.

Most Read