Two New Documents Formalize Federal Agency Coordination for Responsible Natural Gas Development

Obama Signs Executive Order to Establish Natural Gas Development Interagency Working Group

On April 13, President Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) to establish an Interagency Working Group for “Supporting Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources.” The EO is aimed at the Federal government’s responsibility for ensuring public health and safety of natural gas production while reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The Interagency Working Group is to be chaired by the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, or a designated representative as well as deputy-level representatives or equivalent officials, designated by the head of the respective agency or office, from the:

• Departments of Defense; the Interior; Agriculture; Commerce; Health and Human Services; Transportation; Energy; and Homeland Security;
• Environmental Protection Agency;
• Council on Environmental Quality;
• Office of Science and Technology Policy;
• Office of Management and Budget;
• National Economic Council; and
• Such other agencies or offices as the Chair may invite to participate.

The EO acknowledges that states are the primary regulators of onshore oil and gas activities, but calls on these Federal agencies to support the safe and responsible production of domestic unconventional natural gas by:

1. Coordinating agency policy activities;
2. Sharing scientific, environmental, and related technical and economic information;
3. Engaging in long-term planning and coordination on issues such as research, natural resource assessment, and the development of infrastructure;
4. Promoting interagency communication with stakeholders; and
5. Consulting with other agencies and offices as appropriate.

To view the EO, visit the White House website HERE.

EPA, DOE, and DOI Sign MOU to Coordinate Research on Natural Gas Development

On April 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a formal partnership to coordinate and align all research associated with development of our nation’s abundant unconventional natural gas and oil resources. The partnership exemplifies the cross-government coordination required under President Obama’s Executive Order released on the same day, which created a new Interagency Working Group.

A primary goal of this effort will be to identify research topics where collaboration among the three agencies can be most effectively and efficiently conducted to provide results and technologies that support sound policy decisions by the agencies responsible for ensuring the prudent development of energy sources while promoting safe practices and human health. Under this agreement, the core research areas for each of the partners is as follows:

  • EPA’s efforts will focus on scientific and technical disciplines that support the Agency’s mission of protecting human health and safeguarding the environment, including environmental and human health risk assessment, air quality, and water quality.
  • DOE’s responsibilities will cover wellbore integrity, flow and control; green technologies; and complex systems, imaging, materials, earth science and engineering; as well as practices employed by companies engaging in exploration and production of shale gas.
  • DOI’s activities will be conducted by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that has research experience and capabilities in resource assessments; natural systems, geology, hydrology; and evaluation of effects on land use, wildlife, and ecological systems.

To view the memorandum of agreement, visit the EPA website at: