The House of Representatives plans to consider two bills relating to hydraulic fracturing next week. The first of the two, H.R. 2728, Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, was introduced by Representative Bill Flores (R-Texas) on July 18, 2013. This bill would amend the Mineral Leasing Act and prohibit the U.S. Department of the Interior from enforcing federal regulations, guidance, or permit requirements regarding hydraulic fracturing that relate to oil, gas, or geothermal production in states that have regulations, guidance, or permit requirements for that type of activity. This would require the federal government to defer to state regulation of hydraulic fracturing, even if the state regulation is duplicative, contains different requirements, or does not meet federal standards.
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 2850 on July 30, 2013, which is titled the EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study Improvement Act. This bill would require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to consider reports related to the study of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources as Highly Influential Scientific Assessments, which would require peer review, and to require the reports to meet standards and procedures set out in the EPA’s Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Further, the bill requires that these reports include objective estimates of the probability, uncertainty, and consequence of each impact identified in the report and that the estimates or descriptions of probability, uncertainty, and consequence be as quantitative as possible.