Updates in the Fracking Front
Hydraulic fracturing news breaks every day, like waves on the beach, but here’s some of the more important (and recent) ebb and flowback in and outside of government:
On July 1, 2011 the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) announced a comprehensive package of recommendations to the Governor on moving forward with drilling and fracturing, allowing access to natural gas extraction in approximately 85% of the Marcellus Shale in NY if such recommendations and safeguards are in place. The wide-ranging report which calls for new regulations and monitoring protocols, is subject to a 60 day public comment period, and offers a potential road map for many other jurisdictions.
On June 17, 2011 the Governor of Texas signed legislation requiring oil and gas operators to publicly disclose the chemicals in fracturing fluids, specifically by mandating participation in the FracFocus chemical Disclosure Registry, established by the GWPC and the IOGCC. The trend for public disclosure has been spreading across the country and several states are considering mandatory participation by industry in the voluntary national registry.
Congressional and Executive inquiries are continuing. Senate and House Committees are probing and positioning and Senator Cardin, the Chair of a key Subcommittee, is calling for a new review, this time by the Government Accountability Office. Also, EPA has announced 7 locations in several Shale Gas plays throughout the U.S., as part of its hydraulic fracturing/drinking water study to be completed before the end of 2012. At the same time, the hydraulic fracturing commission established by the Department of Energy in May is holding field hearings to develop recommendations on safety and environmental performance issues.
Green chemistry of fracking? Watch this field grow as operators, pressure pumpers (those who do the actual fracturing), and suppliers work together to analyze and develop safer, less controversial, alternative additives. NY DEC’s recent proposal would even require operators to conduct an alternative chemicals analysis.