Federal Fracking Regulations Challenged

Who Has the Authority to Set Fracking Guidelines?
Fracking Regulations Challenged

Fracking Regulations Challenged

In March,the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized new rules to regulate hydraulic oil and gas fracturing on public lands and challenges to that law began immediately. Last month, the Federal District Court of Wyoming cleared the way for states to challenge the sweeping federal authority to impose these regulations.

Texas has been facing the same issue on a more local level. The Texas ouse and senate recently approved legislation that favors state control that would would limit a city’s ability to impose regulations on oil and gas industry activities.

Related: Fracking in Texas Cities: Who’s the Boss?

Colorado is joining Wyoming and North Dakota to challenge the new US federal government’s fracking rules and argue in their lawsuit that the new rules supersede the state’s authority and “invade” the jurisdiction of the state regulatory bodies. They also claim these additional rules aren’t necessary because the EPA has already granted authority to the states to monitor and protect underground water sources.

Responding to the court’s ruling, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said, “Colorado has robust regulations on oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, and our agency regulators are doing a good job implementing them. I believe it is important to test BLM’s novel assertion of regulatory authority in an area that has been traditionally—and in this case expressly—reserved for the states.”

Fracking in Texas Cities: Who’s the Boss?

Legislation Will Squash Local Control

Texas drilling: Who’s in control?

When it comes to drilling oil in Texas, all cities aren’t created equally. Laws and regulations vary from town to town and what is okay in one, might be illegal in another. So, who ultimately gets to decide the rules for fracking in Texas cities?

Since the city of Denton outlawed drilling within the city limits in 2014, the debate over who has the authority to regulate the oil and gas industry has heated up. In recent weeks, the Texas legislature has introduced legislation in both houses that would remove that control from local governments and give it back to the states. 

Related: Fracking Bans in Texas?

SB 1165 and HB 40 both favor state control that would would limit a city’s ability to impose regulations on oil and gas industry activities. The “Denton Fracking Bill” (SB 1165) unanimously passed and asserts that current statutes are already so effective that additional local regulations aren’t necessary . It goes on to say that the act would further “preempt regulation of oil and gas operations by municipalities and other political subdivisions.”

Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said that “The threat to Texas and our state’s biggest economic driver, oil and gas, is real and it’s urgent,” Staples said in his remarks. “This is the very sector that is building our schools, paving our roads and funding our universities. Please make no mistake, this attack is growing and it must be fixed. We join Texans who support local control, but local control does not mean out-of-control.”

Reactions have been swift from local officials, environmental groups and private citizens. The Texas Municipal League was one agency that blasted the decision saying that if city ordinances are nullified, homeowners could be robbed of their property values overnight and would be stripped of their property rights.

Read more at legis.state.tx.us

New Oil & Gas Water Recycling Rules – TX RRC

Water Recycling At Oil & Gas Wells in TX Just Got a Bit Easier

The Railroad Commission has adopted new rules to encourage Texas operators to continue their efforts at conserving water used in the hydraulic fracturing process for oil and gas wells. They have essentially relaxed rules to make it easier for operators to recycle water onsite.

Major changes adopted to the Commission’s water recycling rules include eliminating the need for a recycling permit if operators are recycling fluid on their own leases or transferring their fluids to another operator’s lease for recycling. The changes adopted by the Commission today also clearly identify recycling permit application requirements and reflect existing standard field conditions for recycling permits.

Chairman Barry Smitherman said, “By removing regulatory hurdles, these new amendments will help foster the recycling efforts by oil and gas operators who continue to examine ways to reduce freshwater use when hydraulically fracturing well.”

Commissioner David Porter said, “Water use has been a major concern examined by my Eagle Ford Shale Task Force, and I commend our staff for working to streamline our rules to encourage more recycling.”

Commissioner Christi Craddick said, “Just as our operators have used technology to bring us into this modern day boom of oil production, they are also using technology to reduce their fresh water use. The changes adopted today will assist in those efforts.”

Water shortages in Texas in the past 5 years has brought the spotlight on new oil and gas production methods, in particular hydraulic fracturing. Even though this technique is reported to only use about 1% of water usage in the state, it is an important resource that industries are compelled to manage properly for a more responsible energy future. In doing so, a new ruling by the Texas Railroad Commission removes the regulatory hurdle from recycling frac water– bringing big promise to the future of water recycling in the region. “We see this change as an opportunity to accelerate deployment of our water recycling technologies in Texas.”, said Peter Pappas, VP at Bosque Systems.

The rule amendment also establishes five categories of commercial recycling permits to reflect industry practices in the field:

  • On-lease Commercial Solid Oil and Gas Waste Recycling
  • Off-lease or Centralized Commercial Solid Oil and Gas Waste Recycling
  • Stationary Commercial Solid Oil and Gas Waste Recycling
  • Off-lease Commercial Recycling of Fluid
  • Stationary Commercial Recycling of Fluid

The changes to the rule also establish a tiered approach for the reuse of treated fluid, including both authorized reuse of treated fluids in oil and gas operations and provisions for reusing the fluid for other non-oilfield related uses.

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