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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
Obama's executive order establishes 'fracking' oversight group

On Friday, President Obama issued an executive order calling for federal agencies to coordinate their oversight of the natural gas exploration and drilling process known as “fracking.”

To ensure the “safe and responsible development of unconventional domestic natural gas resources,” Obama’s order will establish an interagency working group to coordinate agencies’ activities in monitoring and regulating fracking.

“Because efforts to promote safe, responsible and efficient development of unconventional domestic natural gas resources are under way at a number of executive departments and agencies, close interagency coordination is important for effective implementation of these programs and activities,” the executive order stated.

Agencies involved will include the departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget, and National Economic Council.

The interagency group will coordinate policy activities; share scientific, environmental and related technical and economic information; perform long-term planning; and ensure coordination among appropriate federal entities regarding the research, natural resource assessment and the development of infrastructure.

“By helping to power our transportation system, greater use of natural gas can also reduce our dependence on oil,” the order stated. “ And with appropriate safeguards, natural gas can provide a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels. For these reasons, it is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.”

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