With a proposed new set of rules, the federal Bureau of Land Management took a step toward better regulation of energy industries that use fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, to extract fossil fuels on public lands and Native American tribal lands. But the regulations are too lax to give much comfort to those who fear fracking is permanently poisoning land and water supplies, endangering wildlife and the public.
Each well uses between 2 million and 5 million gallons of fresh water that is permanently contaminated by toxic chemicals used in the fracking fluid. Pollutants have been discovered in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Other states have reported surface, ground, and drinking water contamination and federal agencies are investigating possible links to fracking.
The Obama administration rightly resisted pressure from the industry to leave fracking regulations to the states, but it yielded to opposition to the tougher rules it proposed last year that would have better protected water supplies.