Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: BLM Issues Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations for Public Lands

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: BLM Issues Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations for Public Lands

By Armando F. Benincasa

The U. S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released in draft form highly anticipated federal rules which would regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. The BLM, the federal agency with authority over the development of mineral rights on federal lands and a part of the Department of the Interior, expressed three goals it meant to achieve with the drafting of the proposed rule:

  1. The public disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations on Federal lands;
  1. The confirmation that wells used in fracturing operations meet appropriate construction standards; and
  1. A requirement that operators put in place appropriate plans for managing flowback waters from fracturing operations.

The rules contain testing requirements and standards regarding well safety and construction. Many of the provisions, including those related to hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure, wastewater management, and well casing construction, are similar to standards which have already been developed by the states which have traditionally regulated the oil and gas industry.

There is substantial concern within the industry that these new rules and standards will operate only as an additional and duplicative series of regulations which provide little, if any, additional benefit to the environment. Once published in the Federal Register, the proposed rule will be subject to a public comment period.

Click Here to view the draft BLM federal rules.

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