Outreach to industry isn't election gimmick, White House aide says

The Obama administration is reaching out to the oil and gas industry more than it did initially to develop regulations, but it is not an election-year gimmick, a leading White House official said. It’s time to set aside past battles and show that the nation’s considerable natural gas resources can be produced efficiently and safely, Heather Zichal, the president’s deputy assistant for energy and climate change, told an American Petroleum Institute conference on hydraulic fracturing.

“When it comes to American manufacturing, which must play an essential part in our economic recovery from the recession, low and stable natural gas prices are essential,” Zichal said. “But environmental and public health organizations have raised legitimate questions. Our regulatory efforts must consider stakeholders’ concerns across the spectrum. We all realize this isn’t a zero-risk proposition if it isn’t done right.”

Zichal—who also chairs the interagency gas policy taskforce, which was formed by Obama after it became apparent that a dozen federal departments and agencies were considering proposals to regulate hydraulic fracturing—said environmental and public health organizations and industry must actively participate in the regulatory dialogue.

Asked if the White House’s outreach to the industry would continue into a second term if Obama is reelected, she responded, “The short answer is ‘yes.’ This industry produces oil and gas, which is important to our energy portfolio. We’ll be successful in finalizing regulations which make sense and are effective only if we engage in a real dialogue.”

Relations have improved since early in Obama’s term, when Zichal said agencies and departments were concentrating on finalizing several regulatory reforms, “but they are hardly warm and fuzzy.” She said, “It’s been very good lately, but not smooth sailing.”

‘They’re listening’

API Pres. Jack N. Gerard, who hosted what was API’s 14th such fracing forum for policymakers and citizen groups across the country, confirmed that an active dialogue has been taking place with the White House, but that it’s not cozy. “At least they’re listening,” he said. “But they’re not following every one of our recommendations. There are still some strong disagreements.”

One of the biggest is whether federal fracing regulations, such as the ones the US Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management proposed on May 4, are even necessary when many producing states already regulate operations aggressively, Gerard told reporters after the meeting. “The first thing the president’s interagency taskforce should have done, once it was formed, was to sit down and review all of the agency and departmental proposals to regulate fracing and toss out the ones which are unnecessary and irrelevant,” he suggested.

Zichal maintained that the administration recognizes that states are the most effective fracing regulators, and is trying only to produce federal regulations which complement what they’re already doing. “There’s a lot of terrific work happening at the state level, and we’re willing to provide technical support where it’s needed,” she said.

The federal government is ideally situated to play a research and development role, and the first thing the taskforce did, once it was formed, was to get the US Interior and Energy departments and the US Environmental Protection Agency to sign a memorandum of understanding to coordinate their R&D efforts, Zichal noted.

API has an ongoing dialogue with the taskforce and the agencies and departments that are involved, Gerard said. “The proof is in the policies. That’s how we judge,” he said. “If the states are doing a good job already, why is federal regulation even necessary?”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

Production ramps up from Sunrise oil sands project

07/06/2015 Husky Energy Inc., Calgary, reported that 25 well pairs are now on production at its Sunrise oil sands project in northeastern Alberta. Steaming is...

Buru awarded onshore Canning licenses

07/06/2015 Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, and Mitsubish Corp. have been granted two production licenses for Ungani oil field in the onshore Canning basin of Western...

Cenovus sells royalty business for $3.3 billion

07/06/2015 Cenovus Energy Inc., Calgary, inked an agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary Heritage Royalty LP to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for gros...

CERI: Energy, operational efficiencies possible in Canadian oil, gas

07/06/2015 Measures can be taken by operators in the expanding resource-intensive Canadian oil and gas sector to improve both energy efficiency and operationa...

AGL Energy to scale back upstream gas operations


Gas retailer AGL Energy Ltd., Sydney, says it will exit the oil business and massively scaling back its upstream gas operations.

Macondo settlement seen ‘positive’ for BP

07/06/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

Court to EPA: Costs matter

07/06/2015 Oil and gas groups did not respond immediately when the US Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that the US Environmental Protection Agency acted unreaso...

Innovation addresses US environmental regulations; more needed

07/06/2015 Technology spawned the recent boom in US oil and gas production which in turn led to new regulations that keep the environment and people safe.
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected