White House Panel to Draft New Fracking Rules

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The Obama administration has named a blue-ribbon panel to recommend new rules to make so-called "fracking" cleaner and safer. The panel has 90 days to report to President Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The group, lead by John Deutch, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has been tasked with crafting proposed regulations and environmental policies for state and federal regulators who oversee gas drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves a high-pressured injection of fluids into underground shale to break open natural gas pockets.

The process has came into the spotlight in Idaho when Bridge Resources, a Colorado-based exploration company, said it wanted to "mini-frack" four of its natural gas wells in Payette County. Having no set regulations overseeing the process, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, led by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter approved temporary rules on April 19, giving the green light to Bridge. A permanent rule-making process is expected to commence this summer.

Meanwhile, Bridge officials will be in front of Payette County Commissioners next Thursday evening asking for a conditional use permit to construct a "gas compression and dehydration station" for its mini-fracking. Bridge will also be asking to amend Payette County's comprehensive plan to further its drilling exploration efforts.

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