NEW TOWN, N.D. — A former president of the National Congress of American Indians says his tribe opposes proposed federal rules to require companies drilling for oil and gas on public and Indian lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex Hall stated his position Tuesday during an energy expo on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, which lies in western North Dakota's booming oil patch. Hall believes federal red tape and redundant regulations threaten to slow oil development on the reservation.
The process commonly known as fracking uses pressurized fluid and chemicals to break open oil-bearing rock. It is controversial because some people fear it will harm the environment. The Obama administration on Friday issued its proposal for disclosure on public and Indian lands. The proposed rules also set standards for proper construction of wells and wastewater disposal. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the rules will allow continued expansion of drilling while protecting public health and safety.
Hall said he is not opposed to disclosure of fracking chemicals but feels the proposed federal rules go too far.
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"We shouldn't be held up by federal obstacles or federal red tape," he said. "These rules are severely impacting the bigger economy at Fort Berthold."
Terry Kovacevich, an asset manager for Marathon Oil in Dickinson, echoed Hall's comments, saying the proposed federal fracking rules duplicate what the state already has in place and will slow oil production.
"All of this will drive development away from the reservation," Kovacevich said.
Rick Hotaling, acting North Dakota field manager for the federal Bureau of Land Management, said the rule was amended to require the fracking chemical disclosure after completion of a well rather than before, in response to industry concerns.
The proposed rules are subject to a 60-day public comment period. A final order is expected by the end of the year.