The U.S. Department of the Interior on Friday released proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands.
“As we continue 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,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “The proposed rule will modernize our management of well stimulation activities — including hydraulic fracturing — to make sure that fracturing operations conducted on public and Indian lands follow common-sense industry best practices.”
The rule would apply to more than 750 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Indian tribes, including all of Osage County in Oklahoma.
Industry and environmental groups had a mixed reaction to the latest federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.
Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association President Mike Terry said the new rule is unneeded and unnecessary.
He maintains the oil and natural gas industry should remain under the jurisdiction of state regulators.
Bill Whitsitt, executive vice president of public affairs for Devon Energy Corp., said he was disappointed with the rule because it will exacerbate the delays facing producers on federal lands.
He said Interior Department officials should have partnerships with state regulators to enforce local regulations on federal lands, as in parts of Wyoming where Devon has active operations.
Whitsitt said Devon has been supportive of the push for disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, but he questioned another federal requirement.
He said there is no need for companies to compile cement bond logs measuring the pressure integrity of wells. The industry currently relies on simpler tests to guarantee the integrity of wells.
“Taken together, there is no way that it wouldn't further exacerbate the slowdown that we see on federal lands,” Whitsitt said. “It's not by accident that most of the shale revolution by far is on state and private lands.
“That trend would certainly continue and probably become even more evident if this rule were approved the way it is.”
He said Devon would file detailed objections.
Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club were unhappy too.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said he was “deeply disappointed” that the government is even considering hydraulic fracturing on public lands.
“We fully expect the administration to implement the toughest safeguards possible to rein in irresponsible practices and protect our public spaces,” he said.
David Ocamb, director of the Sierra Club's Oklahoma chapter, said he was pleased to see the disclosure requirement added for operations on public land.
“This will ensure that all drilling activities on land in Oklahoma have the same level of transparency,” he said.
As we continue 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.”