Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., is asking House leadership to turn down any new regulations on hydraulic fracturing.
A state minerals expert also says any new regulations on hydraulic fracturing would have a catastrophic impact on the oil development in North Dakota.
Pomeroy sent a letter Friday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to reject any proposals that would place burdensome, new regulations on hydraulic fracturing in legislation aimed at responding to the Gulf oil spill.
Some members of Congress have discussed attempting to attach new regulations on hydraulic fracturing to legislation aimed at addressing that tragedy, according to Pomeroy.
Lynn Helms, director of the N.D. Department of Mineral Resources, during a presentation in Minot in May, spoke about if the Environmental Protection Agency decides to regulate hydraulic fracturing.
"We really have got to stop that from happening," he said. He said his department put together a document which tells how North Dakota regulates it and has gone to EPA headquarters and Gov. John Hoeven.
"If this happens, I can tell you that our Bakken and Three Forks drilling will have to stop for two to three years," he said. He said when it happened to Alabama for coalbed methane, "they completely had to shut the door" for two years.
"By the time they got the rules written, the play had moved on and it has never been what it was before," he said. "So that's a huge cloud sitting over our industry a major impact. It would just reduce our activity to almost zero for two to three years."
In his letter to Pelosi, Pomeroy said, "I believe that this would be a mistake and would find little support in the Senate. The EPA is currently undergoing a congressionally mandated study into hydraulic fracturing that is expected to be completed in 2012."
Pomeroy called it "irresponsible" for Congress to enact new regulations before the results of that study are known.
"Imposing new regulations now will do nothing to protect drinking water and will only serve to slow down development resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and more imported oil. It is critical that any legislation related to the Gulf oil spill focus on responding to that tragedy and not include additional burdens on hydraulic fracturing," he said.
Pomeroy pointed out that over the past two years, North Dakota has significantly increased its oil production, rising from the ninth largest oil producing state to the fourth. "This increase in production has resulted in a significant state budget surplus and the nation's lowest unemployment rate," he said.
Pomeroy toured oil-field operations in the Stanley area last week. "During these visits I saw firsthand the significant safeguards that are put into place to protect groundwater during hydraulic fracturing operations," he said.
He said North Dakota currently has strong regulations on oil and gas development that more than adequately protect groundwater.
"These requirements include strict safety requirements on the storage and disposal of hydraulic fracturing fluid and on encasing the well to avoid leaks. The initial phases of wells are encased in several layers of cement from the surface to below the level of the deepest potable water source and below that level, wells are encased in an additional layer of cement to ensure that groundwater is in no danger of contamination," he said.
Pomeroy said the regulation of hydraulic fracturing is best left to the states. "Regulators in each individual state have a better idea of what steps are necessary to protect their residents and environment. Additionally, they are better equipped to implement commonsense regulations that fit their states unique needs than a catchall Environmental Protection Agency regulation," he said.