Proposed federal fracking rules released

May 17, 2013

The U-S Department of Interior released an updated draft proposal of fracking rules for federal and tribal lands on Thursday. The rule-making process started in 2010, and the latest draft incorporates feedback from more than 177-thousand public comments submitted.

The proposal still has three main components governing the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, confirming water management plans for flow back water, and improving well-bore integrity assurances, but Bureau of Land Management Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze says some aspects of those components have changed.  

“For example, instead of mandated a specific type of tool to test that a well has been cemented properly, the new proposal allows for the use of a variety of tools and focuses on their use on those wells where a demonstration of adequate cementing is most needed.”

The proposal also defers to states and tribes that have rules in place which meet or exceed the final federal rule.  Kornze says the new rule also aims to accommodate states and tribes that have already developed their own fracking rules, to minimize duplication.

“The proposal also expands provisions that allow the BLM to accept existing state practices when those practices meet or exceed the standards established in our own rules. And it acknowledges state decisions on the isolation of underground geologic zones as it applies to water resources.” 

Environmental groups have already expressed dissatisfaction with some of the changes, in particular the well bore integrity tests and the chemical disclose timeline. The new draft will be open for comment for 30 days.