BLM proposes withdrawal of fracking regs
On July 25 the Bureau of Land Management filed a notice in the Federal Register, announcing the agency’s intent to rescind regulations introduced by the Obama administration for the hydraulic fracturing of wells. A final rule for the regulations was published in March 2015, but the regulations have never gone into effect because of litigation challenging the rule.
The regulations, which apply to drilling in federal land administered by the BLM, include the mandated filing of information about a hydraulic fracturing drilling operation, a requirement for a public list of chemicals used, performance standards for the well casing and cementing, and requirements for the storage of used hydraulic fluids. Oil industry groups criticized the regulations as being too restrictive and for duplicating state and local rules.
BLM says that its proposal to rescind the regulations comes as part of President Trump’s strategy to remove the burden of federal regulations that hinder economic growth and energy development. Public comments on the proposal are due by Sept. 25.
During a recent review of the regulations BLM found that all 32 states with federal oil and gas leases have their own regulations for hydraulic fracturing and that since the publication of the 2015 final rule an increasing number of companies have been publicly disclosing the chemical content of their fracking fluids, the agency says.
“America’s public lands offer outstanding commercial, recreational, and conservation opportunities, and energy development is one of them,” said Katharine MacGregor, acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management. “Maintaining positive, productive working relationships with our state and tribal partners is a top priority of this administration. We are committed to working collaboratively with them to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of our nation’s energy resources.”
BLM says that it estimates that about 90 percent of some 2,800 production wells drilled in federal and Indian land in 2013 used hydraulic fracturing techniques to stimulate production.
- ALAN BAILEY