Interior Extends Comment Period on Fracking
The Interior Department is extending the public comment period on draft rules to regulate oil-and-gas “fracking” by 60 days, “to ensure that the public and key stakeholders, including industry and public health groups, are able to provide important feedback that will help inform any final rule.”
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management had initially required comments by July 10 on the regulations that will govern the oil-and-gas development method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public lands.
In May the department floated rules that require industry disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. The draft rules also address well integrity and management of so-called flowback water. Interior plans to finalize the regulations by the end of the year.
Judge Sets Aside BLM’s Roan Plateau Drilling Plan
A U.S. district judge ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to to re-assess its plan to allow drilling on roughly 50,000 acres on the Roan Plateau, which is believed to contain one of the largest natural gas fields in the continental United States, according to energy experts.
Judge Marcia Krieger said on Friday that the agency had failed to thoroughly assess all the environmental impact to the ecologically sensitive plateau in western Colorado before approving natural gas development on the mountain.
Report Says Silca a Hazard at Fracking Sites
Oil and gas field workers face health hazards from silica sand used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process, an arm of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported on Friday.
After testing air samples from 11 fracking sites in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Colorado, Arkansas and Texas, CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found silica levels above defined exposure limits, it said in a hazard alert posted on the Department of Labor’s OSHA website.
Polis Amendment to increase Oil and Gas Setbacks Defeated
Representative Jared Polis’ amendment in the U.S. House last week to set a 1,000-foot buffer between schools and hydraulic fracturing activities was defeated on a voice vote by Republicans.
The amendment was offered in consideration of a bill that would turn over acres of additional public lands to oil and gas companies for development, according to Polis.
The congressmanmet with fracking opponents in Erie earlier this year to discuss their concerns over the process, in which sand, water and chemicals are injected into the ground to loosen gas from underground deposits. Emissions from wells close to schools in the town have been the subject of protests by some locals.
Wyoming Governor Appoints Interim Head of Oil and Gas Regulatory Commission
Gov. Matt Mead has appointed Bob King as interim oil and gas supervisor for Wyoming. King will take over the role from Tom Doll, who offered his resignation after making controversial comments about a federal investigation and Wyoming residents with water concerns.
King previously served as interim supervisor in 2008 and 2009 for the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates oil and natural gas operations in the state. MORE …
Governor Mead Asks for More Time on Proposed Fracturing Rule
Mead said he opposes the proposed rules, and that they duplicate Wyoming’s fracking rules and are unnecessary and cumbersome.
Apparently, U.S. Department of Interior listened to the Governor and others, because it announced late last week that it is extending the public comment period by 60 days.
The Bureau of Land Management recently drafted a rule for fracking use on federal and Indian lands. The Wyoming Governor is requesting a 90-day extension of the comment period based on a newly released study that projects more than $1.4 billion in economic impacts to industry.
He says the state needs more time to adequately assess how the proposed rule will impact Wyoming, including its budget, local government funding and jobs.
Industry Pays for Federal Staff Additions to Speed Drilling in Wyoming
Wyoming oil and natural gas operators, anxious to hurry up the bogged-down federal drill permit process, are forking over tens of thousands of dollars to pay for additional federal staff and overtime.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming will likely spend least $100,000 on overtime and salaries for federal and contract workers to speed approval of drilling permits, also known as APDs, at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s field office in Casper, said Bruce Hinchey, the association’s president.
The permit requests the office is fielding have more than doubled in the last two years, says Casper Field Manager Joe Meyer, and the office is short-staffed.
The slowing permit process is a big problem for oil and gas operators, who are drilling ever larger numbers of wells in Converse County and other places within the BLM district, whose office also manages federal land in Goshen and Platte counties and most of Natrona County. MORE …