Public comment period extended for proposed hydraulic fracturing rule
In order to facilitate greater input from the public and key stakeholders, including industry and public health groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced last week that it is extending the public comment period for a proposed rule to require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands. Notice of the 60-day extension, which resets the comment deadline for Sept. 10, 2012, was published last week in the Federal Register.
Currently, there is no specific requirement for operators to disclose these chemicals on federal and Indian lands, where approximately 90 percent of the wells drilled use hydraulic fracturing to greatly increase the volume of oil and gas available for production.
On May 11, 2012, BLM published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would require public disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing after fracturing operations have been completed. As of June 25, 2012, BLM had received more than 170 comments on the proposed rule.
Acting BLM Director Mike Pool said the decision to extend the public comment period would allow for greater public participation. “As the Obama administration continues to offer millions of acres of America’s public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place. We’ve been asked to allow more time for comment on the proposed rule and the BLM has determined that additional time was warranted so that all parties had an opportunity to participate,” he said.
As technology has advanced in the last decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques has provided opportunities to develop oil and gas resources that were previously uneconomic to produce. With domestic oil and natural gas production expanding through these cutting edge technologies, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place.
BLM crafted a proposed rule that addresses the preliminary input received during public listening sessions and tribal consultation efforts. BLM proposes to modernize its management of well stimulation activities, including hydraulic fracturing, to improve public confidence in hydraulic fracturing and ensure that oil and gas development on America’s public lands proceeds safely and responsibly. The proposed rule would provide disclosure to the public of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, strengthen regulations related to well-bore integrity, and address issues related to flowback fluid management. The proposed rule seeks to maximize flexibility, minimize duplication and complement ongoing efforts in some states to regulate fracturing activities by providing a consistent standard across all federal and Indian lands and making reported information easily accessible to the public.
BLM encourages the public to remain actively engaged in the rulemaking process by submitting comments on the proposed rule during the extended public comment period. Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to BLM on or before Sept. 10, 2012, using: • Mail: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134 LM, 1849 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20240, Attention: 1004- AE26. • Personal or messenger delivery: Bureau of Land Management, 20 M Street SE, Room 2134 LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20003.
• Online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting. — WLJ