hydraulic fracturing

Yesterday, the North Dakota Petroleum Council introduced a new proposal to the North Dakota Industrial Council committing the industry to capture 85 percent of the natural gas flared at wellheads within two years. Within six years, the Association committed to capturing 90 percent and upwards of 95 percent should regulatory agencies, the Legislature, and state and tribal stakeholders come on board.

The Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) announced the preliminary findings of a major study and analysis that traced the chemical agents used in the practice of hydraulic fracturing of oil and and natural gas wells and found no evidence that the wells it monitored had contaminated drinking water supplies in the Marcellus Shale region. The announcement was hailed by representatives from the oil and gas industry and met with some words of caution by academic researchers and environmental groups who noted that its findings are not yet finalized.

Today's Wall Street Journal featured a front page story highlighting that US crude oil production grew by 14% last year. The finding came from an annual compilation of industry trend lines that is published by BP  called the Statistical Review of World Energy, which noted that the increase was the largest in the world and the largest in US history. Rising domestic crude oil production, according to the report, was largely tied to increased use of hydraulic fracturing that has led to rapid growth in shale production in North Dakota and Texas.

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.