The Obama administration on Friday unveiled the nation’s first major federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technique for oil and gas drilling that has led to a dramatic increase in American energy production but has also raised concerns about health and safety risks.
The Interior Department began drafting the rules in Mr. Obama’s first term after breakthroughs in the technology, also known as fracking, led to a surge in the production of oil and gas.
The fracking boom has put the United States on track to soon become the world’s largest oil and gas producer. But environmentalists fear that the technique, which involves injecting a cocktail of chemicals deep underground to fracture the rocks around oil and gas deposits, could contaminate surrounding water supplies and wildlife.
The new rules will apply only to oil and gas wells drilled on public lands, even though the vast majority of fracking in the United States is done on private land. The rules will cover about 100,000 wells, according to the Interior Department.