Nearly a dozen major energy companies, including Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA.LN, RDSA), have developed standards for hydraulic fracturing in the Appalachian region as federal regulators look to answer environmental concerns with tightened drilling rules.

The companies released the standards Tuesday, saying their shared set of voluntary practices demonstrates the industry's commitment to responsible drilling.

The industry-led effort coincides with an aggressive push by the Obama administration to develop national rules for hydraulic fracturing, a popular method for extracting natural gas, amid a boom in natural gas production.

The Environmental Protection Agency released rules in April designed to control methane and organic chemicals from "fracked" wells and the Interior Department is in the process of writing rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands.

Oil and natural gas companies say the states are doing an adequate job of regulating hydraulic fracturing. They criticize the Obama administration for launching multiple, and potentially overlapping, efforts to study or regulate the practice.

The standards released Tuesday address best practices for drilling, well design, water use and equipment use. They also include ways to reach out to residents who live near natural gas production sites, often the most vocal opponents of hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing involves the use of high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to break open seams in shale rock, making it easier to extract natural gas.
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