The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has proposed rules aimed at preventing contamination of groundwater from oil-and-gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing. Based on oil-and-gas industry best practices, the proposed rules follow a shift of authority over groundwater protection in the state from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) to RRC.
With respect to hydraulic-fracturing wells, the rules would require more stringent safety restrictions near water sources as well as blowout preventers and thicker cement casing for some wells, and would adopt formal definitions for hydraulic fracturing and other technical terms. In addition, hydraulic fracturing wells deeper than 3,500 feet would require special approval to ensure cement casing was set properly and to prevent hydraulic-fracturing fluids from migrating up to protected groundwater. The rules are open for public comment until October 9, 2012.