UPDATE 3-Obama streamlines oversight of shale gas

Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:52pm GMT

* Builds on Jan. pledge to promote gas development

* Creates interagency group to regulate fracking

* Business group says directive is solid first step

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama streamlined oversight of the natural gas drilling boom on Friday as his administration faced increasing pressure to allow exports of the fuel as supplies swell.

Obama issued an executive order creating an interagency group to oversee development of natural gas, building on a pledge he made in his State of the Union address in January to support the industry while increasing safety.

A government source said the panel, to be led largely by Obama's deputy assistant for energy and climate Heather Zichal, would not increase regulation.

The order seeks to coordinate regulation among agencies and their efforts to boost use of natural gas in cars and trucks.

Several energy industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and America's Natural Gas Alliance, praised the directive for its acknowledgement that states, not the federal government, are the primary regulators of natural gas.   Continued...

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