The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is extending the public comment period on a revised rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

According to a BLM release, the comment period has been extended for 60 days, to Aug. 23, due to the “high level of interest in the rule,” which will be the first update to these federal oil and gas regulations since the 1980s.

According to the rule as published in the federal register, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been a growing practice in recent years. The technique employs water, sand and chemicals to extract oil and gas.

“The rapid expansion of this practice has caused public concern about whether fracturing can lead to or cause the contamination of underground water sources, whether the chemicals used in fracturing should be disclosed to the public, and whether there is adequate management of well integrity and the ‘flowback’ fluids that return to the surface during and after fracturing operations,” a summary of the BLM rule states.

The BLM oversees about 700 million acres of federal mineral rights and 56 million acres of tribal mineral rights, according to information from the Bureau, and about 90 percent of the wells drilled on federal and tribal lands use hydraulic fracturing.

The BLM released its first proposed rules a year ago and received more than 177,000 public comments, according to a Bureau release.

“Extending the comment period ensures that we’ll have greater input from the public and from key stakeholders, including industry and environmental groups, Indian tribes, as well as other people who have hydraulic fracturing operations in their communities,” BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze is quoted as saying in the release.

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