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States Continue Effective Regulation of Shale

It’s a tired refrain (and demonstrable fiction) used incessantly by opponents of responsible shale development in their press releases and fundraising pleas: The industry, they claim, is unregulated. But for those of us interested in facts, we know better. And news this week from Colorado and Texas provides yet another example of how states are doing a more than adequate job in regulating the industry: both states’ primary regulatory bodies overseeing oil and gas development moved forward with rules requiring disclosure of fluids used during hydraulic fracturing.

In Texas, the Railroad Commission (RRC) adopted its rule on December 13th to comply with a law passed earlier this year by the state’s legislature. That rule will require companies to use the FracFocus.org website to disclose chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. The requirement will apply to all wells permitted by RRC on or after February 1, 2012, the date the rule goes into effect.

Companies across the country have been voluntarily utilizing Frac Focus for chemical disclosure for months, and anyone who visits the site can look up well-specific data. Of course, FracFocus.org has been available since this past spring to anyone with Internet access, a fact lost on professional opponents of development who still choose to believe that hydraulic fracturing fluids are a mystery.

It’s also worth noting that the new RRC rule was praised by a range of interests, from America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) to the League of Conservation Voters.

A similar story unfolded in Colorado, where the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved its own disclosure requirement for operators in the Centennial State. As in Texas, companies must use FracFocus.org, and both states have provisions to protect proprietary information. The new rule in Colorado was similarly embraced by diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Texas and Colorado are two of the largest oil and gas producing states in the country (Texas being the largest), and the new rules approved by their respective regulatory bodies demonstrate yet again that state governments — not bureaucrats inside the Environmental Protection Agency — are more than capable of tightly and effectively regulating shale development.

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