State oversight of shale gas development is the right course, policymakers say

For America’s chemical manufacturers, the future is now.

Front-page stories from the Financial Times to the Washington Post have trumpeted our country’s manufacturing renaissance, courtesy of chemistry’s ability to leverage abundant and affordable supplies of natural gas from shale to drive growth and create jobs.

ACC has cautioned that the full potential of shale gas can only be realized with sound state policies that encourage infrastructure development and maximize energy production in an environmentally responsible manner.

A recent House Environment and the Economy Subcommittee hearing  echoed ACC’s call for state, not federal, oversight of hydraulic fracturing and chemical disclosure.

Several members of Congress and a state regulator agreed that the states can best tailor the regulation of hydraulic fracturing to meet their energy needs while managing environmental concerns.

Harold Fitch from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality spoke of the differing economic, geologic, environmental and public issues confronting each state when it comes to shale gas production:

A one-size-fits-all federal approach would not be as effective or efficient in accommodating these unique issues.

Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) said states should not be thought of as “the minor leagues of environmental protection,” emphasizing that state regulators are just as capable as their federal counterparts in implementing environmental rules.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said state regulation of domestic and oil gas production, especially the use of innovative technologies, was embedded in federal law. Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) followed suit, saying the expert testimony demonstrated the states’ success in regulating hydraulic fracturing.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) made note of the economic considerations for balanced state regulation, saying that either “inadequate oversight” or “excess restrictions” could threaten jobs and revenue.

As the nation continues to capitalize on plentiful and reliable supplies of natural gas, ACC expects new capital investment of close to $60 billion in 70 major projects around the country — just the beginning of what our industry can do with competitively priced natural gas.

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