On March 30, 2011, Obama announced the release of the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, in which he put forth his energy security strategy. Conventional and unconventional natural gas, specifically shale, was highlighted as a crucial domestic energy source that, if developed responsibly, could play an important role in securing our energy future:

Encouraging Responsible Development Practices for Natural Gas: Recent technology and operational improvements in extracting natural gas resources, particularly shale gas, have increased gas drilling activities nationally and led to significantly higher natural gas production estimates for decades to come. In order to take full advantage of this important domestic energy resource, we must proactively address concerns that have been raised regarding potential negative impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) practices. That is why the Administration is taking steps to address these concerns and ensure that natural gas production proceeds in a safe and responsible manner. Initiatives supported by the Administration include:

Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals: The Administration is calling on industry to be more transparent about the use of fracking chemicals.

Leading by Example: In April, DOI will hold a series of regional public meetings to discuss the potential for expanding shale gas production on Federal lands. These events will provide a forum to develop a framework for responsible production on public lands.

Research: The Federal government will conduct research to examine the impacts of fracking on water resources. At Congress’ direction, EPA will continue with its study of fracturing impacts on drinking water and surface water, and DOE will likewise sponsor research on these issues.

Setting the Bar for Safety and Responsibility: To provide recommendations from a range of independent experts, the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the EPA Administrator and Secretary of Interior, should task the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) with establishing a subcommittee to examine fracking issues. The subcommittee will be supported by DOE, EPA and DOI, and its membership will extend beyond SEAB members to include leaders from industry, the environmental community, and states. The subcommittee will work to identify, within 90 days, any immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of fracking and to develop, within six months, consensus recommended advice to the agencies on practices for shale extraction to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

Offering Technical Assistance to State Regulators: States exercise oversight of oil and gas drilling using delegated authority under Federal environmental laws and additional authorities under state law. Some have made more progress than others on enhancing protections to deal with the challenges of fracking. DOE and EPA are establishing a mechanism to provide technical assistance to states to assess the adequacy of existing state regulations. EPA will continue to perform a strong backstop role under Federal environmental laws and will take actions, as necessary, to protect public health and the environment.

The report also specifically mentions the S/CIEA’s Global Shale Gas Initiative (GSGI) as a necessary program that “benefits both developing countries and the U.S. by moderating oil demand growth in these rapidly growing economies and facilitating fuel-switching to cleaner natural gas.”

Fact sheet:


POTUS remarks:


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