Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Department of the Interior Proposed Fracking Rules

The American Petroleum Institute, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the American Exploration and Production Council, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Exxon, and Anadarko Petroleum are part of a wider industry push that has taken concerns about looming Interior Department "fracking" regulations they consider burdensome to the White House. Interior is proposing rules to govern fracking that occurs on public lands. The rules are expected to require disclosure of chemical ingredients used in the fracking process, and also address well integrity and water management.

Industry fears the rules could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of annual delays for industry projects on public lands, and warns of “onerous” reporting requirements. The presentation also cites concerns that Interior could deny fracking from occurring at wells that have already been drilled.
Fracking involves high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to open up seams that enable trapped gas to flow. The method, along with advances in horizontal drilling technology, is enabling a U.S. gas production boom but bringing pollution fears along with it.
Environmental groups are pushing for stronger federal oversight on several fronts, including the repeal of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that exempted fracking from EPA Clean Water Act rules.

Iidustry recommendations for the looming Interior rules include adoption of the format used by FracFocus — a voluntary disclosure database run by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission — for the required federal disclosures. The industry groups support current state-level requirements and recommend that Interior should use the FracFocus system “instead of attempting to create a different, costly and unnecessary new reporting process.” They also say there is no need for a “national well construction model.”

Federal officials have signaled that they could let companies disclose the required data through FracFocus, which is currently a voluntary registry.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing separate air emissions rules for wells developed with hydraulic fracturing, and studying fracking’s effect on water supplies. (The Hill, 4/9/2012)

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