Interior Dept. Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just released a draft [PDF] of its new rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands. These rules require disclosure of the ingredients in fracking fluid 30 days after a fracking job is complete; calls for the performance of tests to ensure that wells will not leak; requires the management of excess water; and changes to “usable waters” the definition of waters in need of protection during drilling operations.
[Politico summary] Under the proposed rule, operators would need to:
• Get prior approval before beginning fracking operations as a part of the application for a permit to drill. For wells already permitted but not fracked when the rule goes into effect or wells where the approval is more than five years old, operators would submit a report on the fracking plan for approval by the Bureau of Land Management before beginning the hydraulic fracturing process. Wells that are at least five years old would be reviewed promptly to eliminate any delay in operations.
• Submit additional information on the geological formations they are operating within and the specifications of the wells being drilled to ensure that water sources are being protected.
• Submit a disposal plan for recovered fluids for prior approval, along with estimates of how much fluid will be recovered.
• Conduct mechanical integrity tests to ensure that the wells can sustain the pressures expected during fracking.
• Store recovered fluids in tanks or lined pits, as is the current industry recommended practice.
After fracking operations have been completed, the operator would need to submit actual totals of fracking fluids used and the composition of fluids to BLM.
The chemical name, purpose and the amount used must be disclosed to BLM, and that information would be posted on a public website. BLM is working to integrate the information into FracFocus.org, an existing fluid disclosure website.
BLM would also reserve the right to request any additional information about well stimulation activities at any point, according to the rule.
Operators would still have to comply with any state or local regulations related to hydraulic fracturing.
A 60-day comment period will begin once the rule is published in the Federal Register.