By TONI ELLINGTON
On March 20, 2015, the Obama Administration released the final version of the rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, entitled: “Oil and Gas: Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands. “ The rule includes stringent requirements for well casings and wastewater storage. It also requires drillers to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process.
The rule applies to any operations on federal, public, or tribal lands. The final rule resulted from four years of study by the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management. The rulemaking process generated 1.5 million public comments, according to the Bureau of Land Management press release on Friday. The Bureau of Land Management is the largest landowner in the United States, with over 70 million acres of mineral rights.
The rule was immediately challenged in court by two industry groups. The Independent Petroleum Association and the Western Energy Alliance filed suit in a Wyoming federal court shortly after the final rule was released. The Western Energy Alliance is a Denver industry group comprised of ConocoPhillips, Halcon Resources Corp., and QEP Resources, Inc..
Opponents say the rule may conflict with existing state rules, and that the new procedures are unnecessary and will making fracking unnecessarily expensive. The government maintains that the rule applies commonsense standards which will improve safety and help protect groundwater.
The full text of the rule can be found in the Federal Register on March 26, 2015, and is available at http://federalregister.gov/a/2015-06658. The rule will take effect in 90 days.
For more information, contact Toni Ellington at (504) 599-8500.