Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced a new rule from the Department of Interior to regulate the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on federal lands. The relaunch of the rule was made after Interior pulled back its original proposal in 2012 after receiving 177,000 public comments. According to an Interior press release, the updated draft proposal will be subject to a new 30-day public comment period on the notice of proposed rulemaking.
A new proposal, HB 2615, endorsed by both industry and environmental groups has received bipartisan support in the Illinois State House which may lay the groundwork for a regulatory path forward on the often controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing. According to news reports, the filed bill - titled the "Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act" - would require oil and natural gas operators to test water in all phases of drilling, require chemical disclosure of fracking solutions, address air pollution concerns, and hold companies liable for water contamination found after drilling operations.
On Tuesday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced that crude oil production in the U.S. reached a 15-year high with nearly 6.5 million barrels per day in September. The boom was attributed to the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques which yielded a 16 percent increase, or an extra 900,000 barrels per day, from September 2011 levels.
An interesting article was featured in today's Billings Gazette covering the increase in natural gas "flaring" occurring at oil wells and other tight formations in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. Flaring essentially burns off excess natural gas that cannot be captured or transported from the wellhead to a storage facility due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure. It is one the few related aspects of hydraulic fracturing, which has brought about huge swaths of oil and natural gas production, that receives minor attention by the public.