Senior Senate Republicans are floating legislation that would slam the brakes on Obama administration efforts to expand regulation of the controversial oil-and-gas drilling method called "hydraulic fracturing" on federal lands.
Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, is the lead sponsor, and the seven other backers include Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the top GOP member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The bill is unlikely to advance but will provide Republicans another rallying point for allegations that President Obama's Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency have an overzealous agenda that will stymie development.
The bill introduced Wednesday requires that only states may regulate hydraulic fracturing -- or "fracking" --- on federal lands within their borders.
"States better understand their unique geologies and interests," Inhofe said when introducing the measure.
Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to open up seams that enable trapped gas to flow.
The bill arrives ahead of a planned Interior Department proposal that would require disclosure of chemical ingredients used in fracking on public lands, and also create new requirements regarding well integrity and wastewater management.
President Obama touted the upcoming rules in his Jan. 24 State of the Union speech in which he strongly endorsed expanded natural gas development.
"My administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade," Obama said. "And I'm requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use, because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk."