Fracking Insider Readers: We are pleased to bring you Volume 7 of our State Regulatory Roundup including updates on Ohio, California, Wyoming and New York. As we explained in earlier volumes, we designed the Roundup to provide quick overviews on state regulatory activity. If you have any questions on any of these summaries, please do not hesitate to ask.
Ohio – Ohio’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources issues four permits for injection wells to handle wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations. This move is significant because these permits are the first issued since seismic activity in early January triggered both an informal statewide permit moratorium and a formal ban on operating within seven miles of the seismic activity. Regulators used the past 12 months to ensure that regulatory safeguards, such as multistage seismic testing, are in place. The pace of wastewater injection permitting is now expected to increase.
California – On November 16, 2012, California’s Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources submitted an action plan to the U.S. EPA to update the state’s Class II Underground Injection Control Program. The Class II program, for which California has had primacy since 1983, applies to waste injected into storage wells, as well as to some enhanced oil recovery techniques. According to the action plan, California will focus its updates on increasing well casing standards, closure and abandonment requirements, and bonding.
Wyoming – In mid-November, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued environmental assessments finding no significant impacts for exploratory drilling operations in eastern Wyoming. While opposed by local environmental groups for failing to aggregate the cumulative impacts of adjacent drilling operations, BLM’s approvals are not particularly controversial. The EAs are significant, however, because they signal the first step in a broad new oil and gas development area. The development area covers portions of the Niobrara formation, in which there is major development across the border in Colorado, as well as other less-studied formations. BLM estimates that the area could support 111 well pads with 444 wells.
New York – On November 29, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) requested a 90 day extension under the NY Administrative Procedure Act of its deadline to conduct the hydraulic fracturing public health review. NYDEC stated that the extension would allow the three experts appointed by Gov. Cuomo to review the health study. Significantly, NYDEC did not commit to issuing hydraulic fracturing regulations within 90 days.
Despite four years of study, environmental groups oppose the extension in favor of an entirely new rulemaking – and rulemaking schedule.