President Obama issues Executive Order to coordinate policy on development of unconventional natural gas
President Obama has issued an Executive Order establishing an interagency working group to coordinate Administration policy efforts to support “safe and responsible” development of unconventional domestic natural gas and associated infrastructure. This would include coordination of policies on fracking.
In 2011, natural gas provided 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States. Its production creates jobs and provides economic benefits to the entire domestic production supply chain, as well as to chemical and other manufacturers, who benefit from lower feedstock and energy costs. By helping to power our transportation system, greater use of natural gas can also reduce our dependence on oil. And with appropriate safeguards, natural gas can provide a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels.
For these reasons, it is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.
While natural gas production is carried out by private firms, and States are the primary regulators of onshore oil and gas activities, the Federal Government has an important role to play by regulating oil and gas activities on public and Indian trust lands, encouraging greater use of natural gas in transportation, supporting research and development aimed at improving the safety of natural gas development and transportation activities, and setting sensible, cost-effective public health and environmental standards to implement Federal law and augment State safeguards.
Because efforts to promote safe, responsible, and efficient development of unconventional domestic natural gas resources are underway at a number of executive departments and agencies (agencies), close interagency coordination is important for effective implementation of these programs and activities. To formalize and promote ongoing interagency coordination, this order establishes a high-level, interagency working group that will facilitate coordinated Administration policy efforts to support safe and responsible unconventional domestic natural gas development.—Executive Order
The Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources will be chaired by the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, or a designated representative. In addition to the Chair, the Working Group will include deputy-level representatives or equivalent officials, designated by the head of the respective agency or office, from:
- the Department of Defense;
- the Department of the Interior;
- the Department of Agriculture;
- the Department of Commerce;
- the Department of Health and Human Services;
- the Department of Transportation;
- the Department of Energy;
- the Department of Homeland Security;
- the Environmental Protection Agency;
- the Council on Environmental Quality;
- the Office of Science and Technology Policy;
- the Office of Management and Budget;
- the National Economic Council; and
- other agencies or offices as the Chair may invite to participate.
The Working Group is to perform the following functions:
coordinate agency policy activities, ensuring their efficient and effective operation and facilitating cooperation among agencies, as appropriate;
coordinate among agencies the sharing of scientific, environmental, and related technical and economic information;
engage in long-term planning and ensure coordination among the appropriate Federal entities with respect to such issues as research, natural resource assessment, and the development of infrastructure;
promote interagency communication with stakeholders; and
consult with other agencies and offices as appropriate.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) issued a statement welcoming the move to coordinate reviews and policy.