Interior Secretary Jewell Defends Fracking on Public Lands; Says Industry is Responsible for Reassuring Public

Monday, April 20, 2015
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Asking “How many of you burned no fossil fuels today?” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell defended allowing fracking on public lands, saying that the practice is necessary to ensure U.S. energy security while attempting to move away from burning hydrocarbons.


Jewell’s agency last month released rules dealing with fracking on public lands, regulations many say don’t go far enough in protecting the land and those who use it from the toxic waste associated with the practice.


In remarks Thursday to the Center for American Progress (CAP), Jewell said “…the reality is we are an economy that is dependent on fossil fuels, and the federal state is an important source of resources for us. We could easily argue that we’d rather produce those resources domestically than produce them overseas.”


But others point out the inherent risks in fracking and say it should be banned on public lands. “We owe it to our future generations to protect the land that was put aside for the public good,” Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) said last month when the regulations were released. “Regulating fracking still risks accidental spills, water contamination, methane leaks, earthquakes and habitat destruction. The only way to mediate these risks is to not allow fracking in the first place.”


A report (pdf) released last month by CAP and The Wilderness Society says that a fifth of the greenhouse gases emitted in the United States come from fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

Jewell also said that the oil and gas industry, which has been less than forthcoming on the dangers of fracking, particularly about what kinds of chemicals are being injected into the ground, should reassure Americans that fracking is safe. “If the public is concerned, it is the job of industry to reassure the public,” she said. “Industry should be talking about their practices and how they can reassure the public so that there aren’t ongoing concerns. I believe there is a lot of misinformation—again it’s industry’s job to express that. We do understand it and we’ve come out with regulations that we think strike the right balance.”


Jewell worked for Mobil Oil early in her career before moving into the banking world.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Interior Secretary Defends Government’s New Rules For Fracking On Public Lands (by Katie Valentine, ClimateProgress)

Obama Admin. Releases Toothless Fracking Rules; Give-Away to Oil and Gas Industry (Americans Against Fracking)

After more than 4 Years, Bureau of Land Management Finally Issues Rules to Protect Drinking Water from Fracking…but only on Public Lands (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

U.S. Approves Fracking on Federal Land in California (by Ken Broder, AllGov)


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