Legislators urge FEMA to rescind no-fracking policy for mitigation lands

Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Lou Barletta (R-PA) expressed concern on June 5 regarding a May announcement by FEMA of a new policy that bans hydraulic fracturing on real estate purchased with the agency's mitigation funds.

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program extends funding to communities to prevent future property damage resulting from natural disasters. The legislators said the policy has immediate negative consequences for the state.

"The policy was issued without any consultation with those directly impacted by these decisions, most notably state and local governments and other stakeholders," the congressmen said in a letter to FEMA. "Beneficial, cost-effective mitigation projects intended to protect lives and property have been halted due to this policy and will continue to be a burden on the taxpayer."

The lawmakers urged FEMA to bench the policy until a full analysis can be completed.

"FEMA has not been able to provide committee staff answers to fundamental questions about the implications of this policy," Shuster, the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Barletta, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, said. "Finally, we urge you to rescind the policy to avoid any further unintended consequences and the erosion of the programs' mitigation goals."

The letter requested that FEMA respond to questions on the potential impacts of activities and to answer "why the agency refused to work with interested parties in formulating the new ban."