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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FEMA policy bans hydraulic fracturing on certain properties, Sens. Shuster and Barletta claim


U.S. Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) yesterday announced they sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator W. Craig Fugate expressing concerns about the agency’s recent action to ban hydraulic fracturing on property purchased with FEMA mitigation funds.

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program is designed to help alleviate the impact of natural disasters by providing funds to help prevent future damage to property, such as through property acquisitions so that current residents can move to safer areas. However, FEMA on May 5 issued a new policy stating that any lands acquired through the mitigation program can't be used for hydraulic fracturing, wrote Shuster and Barletta in their joint letter. Shuster chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Barletta chairs the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

FEMA has failed to address a number of crucial details regarding how the ban would be implemented, the senators claim.

"This policy has immediate, negative consequences in our state, as well as significant potential impacts in virtually every state across the country," Shuster and Barletta wrote. "The policy was issued without any consultation with those directly impacted by these decisions, most notably state and local governments and other stakeholders."

The decision broadly bans hydraulic fracturing on certain properties and is keeping mitigation projects in Pennsylvania from moving forward, the senators claim.
"FEMA is unable to articulate or substantiate how hydraulic fracturing impacts surface flooding and open space, thereby justifying the policy," Shuster and Barletta wrote.

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