X

Reset Password

Username:

Change Password

Old Password:
New Password:
We have completed your request.
Fracking Tracker Hero

Shale & Fracking Tracker

News & Flashes

  • 10
  • October
  • 2017

Court Vacates BLM’s Postponement of Obama-Era Waste Prevention Rule

On October 4, 2017, in a consolidated decision for Sierra Club, et al. v. Zinke, et al., No. 17-cv-03885, and State of California, et al. v. United States Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-cv-03804, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated the Bureau of Land Management’s (”BLM”) postponement of BLM’s 2016 final rule entitled “Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation” (the “Waste Prevention Rule”). The district court held that BLM’s postponement did not comply with Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act. The decision vacates BLM’s June 15, 2017 notice postponing the Waste Prevention Rule’s January 17, 2018 compliance deadlines pending a decision in Western Energy Alliance et al. v. Secretary of the U.S. Dep’t of the Interior et al, Case No. 16-cv-00280 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, in which several industry groups and states have challenged the finalized Waste Prevention Rule’s legal validity. 

BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule, initially promulgated in November 2016, covers a number of methane emissions sources associated with oil and gas production activities on federal lands, including natural gas emissions from venting or flaring, gas leaks from equipment and facilities located at the well site, and well drilling and completions. While the Waste Prevention Rule called for operators to submit “waste minimization” plans by January 2017, the Rule’s leak detection and recovery, emission reduction, and reporting requirements are scheduled to go into effect on January 17, 2018. 
 
The BLM Waste Prevention Rule is currently in effect and compliance with those portions of the rule with initial compliance deadlines of January 2018 will be required absent additional administrative or judicial action in the interim. Several such actions remain possible, and Department of Interior officials have previously pledged to “suspend, revise or rescind” the rule in light of its “significant regulatory burden.” Primary among these efforts is BLM’s October 5, 2017 proposed rule that would extend the Waste Prevention Rule’s January 2018 deadlines to January 2019. The comment period for this proposed rule is currently open through November 6, 2017, leaving BLM with limited time following the comment period to promulgate a final rule in advance of the January 2018 deadlines. In addition, industry’s judicial challenge to the Waste Prevention Rule in Western Energy Alliance remains pending. Finally, appropriations bill HR 3354, which has passed the House of Representatives and has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar, would, if signed into law, prohibit BLM from using its funds to enforce the Waste Prevention Rule.

  • 11
  • November
  • 2016

Wyoming DEQ Issues Final Report Concluding that Upward Migration of Fracturing Fluids at Depth Is Unlikely

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality ("WDEQ") has released its final report in response to resident concerns alleging a link between well water taste and odor issues in the Pavillion Gas Field and hydraulic fracturing activity. The final report brings to a close an investigative effort that initially began in 2009.  While a 2011 draft report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") concluded that hydraulic fracturing fluids may have impacted groundwater in the Pavillion Gas Field, WDEQ’s final report concludes that "[i]t is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing fluids (injected into the deeper production zone(s)) have risen to the depths utilized by water-supply wells.”  This finding is consistent with WDEQ’s December 2015 draft final report as well as EPA's June 2015 draft hydraulic fracturing study, which did not identify any instances where fluids migrated from the factures made in rock formations more than a mile below the surface up into aquifers that could be potential sources of drinking water. Like other recent studies, the final report further concludes that well construction issues present the "most probable pathway for gas or other fluids to reach shallow depths" via seepage along the wellbore, a risk WDEQ likewise identified in its December 2015 draft final report. Read WDEQ's final report in full here and the tables here.

  • 22
  • June
  • 2016

Federal Court in Wyoming Strikes Down BLM Fracking Rule

In a June 21 ruling, the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming set aside the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) comprehensive hydraulic fracturing regulations, holding that BLM lacks the statutory authority to regulate the hydraulic fracturing process.  BLM promulgated a final rule in March 2015 that regulated wellbore construction, chemical disclosure, and water management for hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands.  The rule was scheduled to take effect in June 2015.  States and industry groups challenged the rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act, and the court stayed the effective date of the rule before it went into effect.  

BLM had claimed “broad authority” to regulate all oil and gas operations on federal and Indian lands under a bevy of statutes, but the court concluded that BLM’s authority under these statutes did not extend to “the kind of comprehensive rulemaking” aimed at the process of hydraulic fracturing embodied in its March 2015 rule.  Rather, the court held that the Safe Water Drinking Act (“SWDA”) originally vested the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) “with the authority and duty to regulate hydraulic fracturing on all lands, federal state and tribal,” but that Congress, in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, explicitly removed non-diesel hydraulic fracturing from EPA regulation under the SWDA.  Pursuant to the court’s holding, BLM is now without the statutory authority to regulate the process of hydraulic fracturing, though it may appeal the court’s decision; indeed, the government had already appealed the court’s stay of the rule’s effective date to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the opinion in full here.

  • 23
  • December
  • 2015

Wyoming DEQ Draft Final Report Concludes that Upward Migration of Fracturing Fluids at Depth Is Unlikely

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality ("WDEQ") has released its draft final report in response to resident concerns alleging a link between well water taste and odor issues in the Pavillion Gas Field and hydraulic fracturing activity. In contrast to a 2011 draft report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), which concluded that hydraulic fracturing fluids may have impacted groundwater in the Pavillion Gas Field, WDEQ's draft final report concludes that "[i]t is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallower depths intercepted by water-supply wells." This finding is consistent with EPA's 2015 draft hydraulic fracturing study, which did not identify any instances where fluids migrated from the factures made in rock formations more than a mile below the surface up into aquifers that could be potential sources of drinking water. Like other recent studies, WDEQ further concludes that well construction issues present the "most probable pathway for gas or other fluids to reach shallow depths" via seepage along the wellbore. WDEQ is accepting public comment on its draft final report through March 18, 2016. Read WDEQ's draft final report in full here.

  • 17
  • December
  • 2015

SAB Panel Reviews EPA's Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study

An EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) panel recently released an early version of its recommendations regarding the Agency's closely-followed hydraulic fracturing study. A draft of the study was issued by EPA's Office of Research and Development in June 2015, finding that while water supply "vulnerabilities" exist, hydraulic fracturing does not have "widespread, systemic impacts" on drinking water. Despite EPA's insistence that the report is not designed to inform specific policies, commentators have paid close attention because of the study's potential role in the ongoing debate regarding further regulation of the industry.

The SAB panel's review, presented in a "Preliminary Summary Responses" document, is the latest development in this discussion and may impact the final version of the study. Among other comments, the SAB panel report indicates that it is not clear how EPA's statement of no widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water "reflects the uncertainties and data limitations the data described" in the draft study. The SAB panel recommends that the Agency revise its statements of findings "to be more precise and specific, and to clearly draw from the body of the report."

In response to the SAB's recommendations, EPA could potentially amend its prior finding of no widespread, systemic impacts. The SAB is expected to issue a final report with consensus advice in the spring of 2016. EPA still plans to issue its final hydraulic fracturing study in 2016. EPA has faced criticism over its previous groundwater investigations in Pavillion, Wyoming; Parker County, Texas; and Dimock, Pennsylvania.

  • 24
  • June
  • 2015

Federal Court Prevents New BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations From Going into Effect

The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM)'s new hydraulic fracturing regulations for Federal and Indian lands will not go into effect today as originally planned. In a challenge to the rule led by the State of Wyoming, the district court has stayed the effective date of the new rule until BLM submits its administrative record for the rule and the parties are able to cite to the record in their arguments. The district court will then determine whether the rule should be further stayed from going into effect until the resolution of this lawsuit. While the judge indicated that he is likely to rule on whether to extend the stay by the end of the summer, the new rule will not be in effect for at least the next few weeks. More information about BLM's new rule is available here

The case is State of Wyoming v. United States Department of the Interior Secretary , No. 2:15-cv-00043 (D. Wy.).

  • 14
  • November
  • 2013

Wyoming Requiring Pre-Drilling Groundwater Testing

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission unanimously approved rules on November 12th requiring companies to perform groundwater baseline sampling, analysis, and monitoring on water sources within a half-mile radius of a proposed well. The rule requires initial baseline water sampling followed by resampling 12 to 24 months and again 36 to 48 months after setting the production casing or liner. The rule allows for variances in certain instances, such as a landowner declining to grant access. It establishes notification requirements in the case of measured increases of gases, BTEX compounds, or TPH. The rule will not create a presumption of or against liability, fault, or causation. The rule goes into effect on march 1, 2014 and can be found here.

Daily Fracking News

View More

Sign Up for Updates

Receive email news and alerts about Shale and Fracking from V&E

V&E Fracking Publications