WASHINGTON Dec 3 America's largest business
lobby group warned the Obama administration on Tuesday against
snuffing out the country's energy boom with regulations on new
oil and natural gas drilling technologies.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said an
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study due next year could
be used to justify clamping down on drilling techniques that
have sparked a surge in U.S. oil and natural gas output.
"This could short-circuit America's absolute explosion in
energy opportunity that is creating millions of jobs," he told a
meeting of business executives.
A major force in U.S. politics, the Chamber of Commerce is
the biggest business lobbying group in the country and has been
a steady critic of President Barack Obama.
In his comments, Donohue railed against the Obama
administration's efforts to increase regulations on businesses
and appealed to the media to get his message out that the rules
were hurting the economy and "undermining freedom."
"They are costing jobs and growth in our country," he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for
The EPA's study, first requested by Congress in 2010, may
prove pivotal in the government's regulation of hydraulic
fracturing, or fracking, which involves forcing large volumes of
water laced with chemicals and sand deep underground to crack
rock and free oil and natural gas.
Currently, fracking is largely regulated by states, rather
than the federal government. In its first major regulation on
the energy boom, the EPA finalized a rule last year that targets
smog-forming pollutants from fracking wells. It allows drillers
to flare the gases until 2015.
Critics of fracking, including many environmentalists, worry
that drilling operations near schools and homes could pollute
water and air.
The United States overtook Russia as the top producer of
natural gas last year and surged past Saudi Arabia this year as
the world's biggest oil producer. Some companies, however, worry
the EPA study could lead to added regulations that crimp
America's energy bounty.
"Many believe it will be the rationalization of new federal
fracking regulations before the end of this administration,"
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Paul Simao)