The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing Thursday to review the latest draft of a draft rule on oil and natural gas drilling regulations, which has been in the works for nearly a year.
The rules, which were initially slated for a markup last month, were released Thursday.
A summary of the new rules says the rule is needed to prevent future environmental damage to the natural environment from oil and other fossil fuel extraction.
The agency says it is “committed to taking swift and decisive action to address the problems identified by the Congressional Research Service.”
But it’s unclear how far along the agency has gotten.
Some Republicans and Democrats have questioned the need for a rule at all, citing the potential environmental impact.
The proposed rules would prohibit the drilling of wells more than 1,000 feet deep or deeper than 1.5 feet, require all drilling rigs to be inspected at least once a year, and require oil and mineral leaseholders to conduct annual inspections.
They also would require drillers to conduct at least 60 percent of their work in areas that have been designated as “ecological areas” by the Interior Department, a designation that could help determine how much of an impact drilling could have on wildlife and other species.
The draft rules would also impose a 25 percent cap on oil- and gas-drilling permits.
They would also require companies to report on the impact of their operations to the EPA, which would have to consider a range of environmental impacts including pollution, soil erosion, water quality and air quality.
The EPA is seeking comments on the rules, and a hearing on them is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Thursday at the Capitol.