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Shale & Fracking Tracker

News & Flashes

  • 29
  • August
  • 2014

Texas Railroad Commission Proposes New Rule Addressing Seismic Events for Disposal Wells

Today, the Texas Railroad Commission ("RRC") published a proposed rule that would impose new permitting requirements for oilfield waste injection wells. The requirements are intended to address concerns that the technique could be inducing earthquakes in parts of the state.

The proposed rule would require companies planning to locate a disposal well in an area where there is an increased risk of fluid migration to submit information such as location of historic seismic events, as well as logs, geologic cross-sections, and/or structure maps to show the well is safe. Such "increased risk" areas may include, for example, areas with complex geology, proximity of the baserock to the injection interval, transmissive faults, and/or a history of seismic events in the area.

If "injection is suspected of or shown to be causing seismic activity," the RRC would have the authority to modify, suspend, or terminate the operating permit for the well. The RRC estimates that the new requirements would cost applicants approximately $300 more per disposal well permit. The proposal was published in the Texas Register on August 29, 2014, and the RRC will accept public comments on the proposal until noon on September 29, 2014. Read the proposed rulemaking here.

  • 14
  • July
  • 2014

EPA Extends Comment Period for Fluid Disclosure Rules

EPA has extended the period for submitting comments on its proposal to promulgate rules requiring the public disclosure of chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The July 14 notice extends the comment period to September 18, 2014. EPA’s May 19, 2014 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”) initiated a stakeholder process requesting input regarding (1) the information that should be collected from hydraulic fracturing operators regarding the chemicals and mixtures they use, (2) how that information should be obtained and disclosed, (3) best management practices related to collecting and reporting such information, (4) ways to avoid burdens duplicative of those required under other agencies’ regulatory schemes, and (5) incentives or recognition programs to support the use of safe chemicals in hydraulic fracturing operations. EPA will consider the input it receives during the comment period in developing a proposed rule that it intends to promulgate pursuant to its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Read the May 19, 2014 ANPR here and the July 14, 2014 notice to extend the comment period here.

  • 11
  • July
  • 2014

New Voluntary API Guidelines Address Community Engagement

The American Petroleum Institute has issued ANSI-API Bulletin 100-3, which sets forth detailed recommendations for oil and gas companies seeking to engage with the communities affected by exploration and development activities. Although the Community Engagement Guidelines (the "Guidelines") set forth in the Bulletin are worded in a manner that is broadly applicable to all manner of oil and gas operations, the guidelines "are intended primarily to support onshore oil and gas projects in the United States for shale developments." The Guidelines are the culmination of a three year effort by API to engage with various stakeholders to arrive at a set of principles and considerations that will foster good relations between oil and gas operators and the local communities in which they operate. Accordingly, the Guidelines set forth specific recommendations aimed at each of the five stages of an oil and gas project's life cycle: entry, exploration, development, operations/production, and exit. Read the Guidelines in full here.

  • 02
  • July
  • 2014

New York Municipalities Can Prohibit Fracking, Says State High Court

The New York Court of Appeals, the State's highest court, concluded recently that two towns, Dryden and Middlefield, could use local zoning laws to ban hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities within their municipal boundaries.  The court grounded its decision in the state's Municipal Home Rule Law, which empowers municipalities to pass laws for the protection and enhancement of their physical and visual environment and the safety, health, and well-being of their residents and property. Opponents to the local bans argued that the "supersession clause" of the state's Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law preempts local zoning law such that the towns lacked the authority to proscribe natural gas activities. The court rejected this argument, holding that the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law's supersession clause was not a clear expression of State Legislature intent to preempt local zoning law. Read the opinion here.

  • 16
  • June
  • 2014

California Revises Proposed Well Stimulation Regulations

On June 13, the California Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources ("DOGGR") revised its proposed regulations relating to the use of well stimulation, including hydraulic fracturing, in oil and gas production. The proposed regulations, which would replace the interim regulations that went into effect on January 1, are part of DOGGR's continuing efforts to implement Senate Bill 4, California's 2013 legislation requiring permits for hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation techniques, and would go into effect on January 1, 2015. The revised regulations address the permitting of well stimulation activities as well as associated well integrity, public disclosure, testing/monitoring, and waste handling requirements. Notably, the revised regulations would allow well stimulation permit applicants to request a "single-project authorization" from DOGGR, which would authorize multiple well stimulation treatments under a single permit. DOGGR's revisions would also require operators to monitor seismic activity in the vicinity of their hydraulic fracturing operations. The public may comment on the revised regulations through July 28. Read DOGGR's revised proposed regulations in full here.

  • 05
  • June
  • 2014

North Carolina Law Lifts Statewide Moratorium on Fracking Permits

North Carolina's Energy Modernization Act of 2014, signed into law on June 4, lifts a statewide ban on the issuance of permits for oil and gas exploration and development activities using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The new law also prohibits local ordinances that would prevent oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities, including any ordinances that prohibit horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing. Additionally, the legislation criminalizes the unlawful disclosure of confidential information associated with hydraulic fracturing activities, such as the constituents of hydraulic fracturing fluid. Fracking activities could begin in the state as early as May 2015. Read the Energy Modernization Act of 2014 in full here.

  • 10
  • April
  • 2014

Ohio Issues New General Permits With Additional Fugitive Emissions Detection Requirements

The Ohio EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control issued revised Model General Permits for oil and gas well sites on April 4, 2014. The revised general permits include requirements aimed at reducing fugitive emissions of methane by requiring more frequent leak detection inspections and quick repair of detected leaks. It allows operators to use infrared cameras or portable sampling instruments to detect leaks. For more information on the new general permits, visit the Ohio EPA webpage here.

  • 11
  • January
  • 2014

California Offshore Drillers Must Disclose Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals

EPA issued a new General NPDES permit for offshore oil and gas operations off the coast of Southern California on Thursday, January 9, 2014, that requires drillers to maintain an inventory of chemicals used for well treatment, completion, and workover fluids (including hydraulic fracturing fluids) and report the chemical formulation for any discharge of such fluids in their quarterly discharge monitoring reports. To see EPA's published notice of availability of the final NPDES general permit, click here.

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