In an effort to protect the country’s water supply, the Obama administration released new federal regulations on Friday that will affect all hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations on federal lands. These are the first federal regulations related to hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is a process in which liquid is pumped into rock seams at a high pressure in order to gain access to oil and gas that are not reachable by more conventional methods. This method has increased the United States’ production of oil and gas and led to a boom in the economy. However, there is a fear that this type of fracturing could cause contamination in the water supplies.
In response to these environmental concerns, President Obama and the Department of the Interior promulgated these new regulations, which will give government workers access to inspect and validate the safety and integrity of the cement barriers that line fracking wells. These regulations will also require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process. In addition, companies will have to adhere to new safety standards in storing chemicals around well sites and will also have to submit detailed information on well geology to the Bureau of Land Management. (New York Times, “Obama Administration Unveils Federal Fracking Regulations”).
These new regulations will have a limited reach as they only pertain to fracking on federal lands. Most of the fracking takes place on private and state owned lands that are outside of the federal government’s reach. However, these guidelines should set the standard by which private and state fracking operations should have to adhere.
These regulations have faced pushback from both oil and gas companies and environmental groups. Producers engaged in fracking activities are against any level of regulation and feel that it will stymie the unprecedented production that has seen the United States surpass Russia as the largest oil and gas producer in the world. Environmental groups on the other hand feel that the regulations have not gone far enough and fracking still poses a huge threat to the nation’s water.
The Obama administration, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior, is expected to release further regulations that will limit the release of methane gas from drill sites.
If you or someone you know has contaminated water as a result of fracking, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.