Republicans press White House to explain natural gas task force
Congressional Republicans are pressing the Obama administration to say whether a new interagency task force focused on natural gas drilling will push new federal regulations on top of existing state mandates. The Houston Chronicle reports 11 Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee also want to know more about how the working group is coordinating with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the EPA prepares new studies, regulations and guidance for hydraulic fracturing techniques used to extract natural gas. In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and White House adviser Heather Zichal on Tuesday, the GOP lawmakers took issue with the presidential order establishing the task force on April 13. President Barack Obama's executive order instructs the working group to "facilitate coordinated administration policy efforts to support safe and responsible unconventional natural gas development." However, the Republicans pointed out, the same order also says the federal government has a role in "augmenting state safeguards" on natural gas production. "The order is not clear on whether that federal standard-setting role is in addition to or in lieu of the states' role as primary regulators," the Republicans' letter says. "As this federal 'augmenting' role is mentioned as something apart from simply implementing federal law, it requires particular explanation."
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